The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

FCC Enforcement Watch Archive: 2020

Some NALs (Notices of Apparent Liability), Forfeiture Orders, Notices of Violation (NOVs), and Consent Decrees issued by the MB (Media Bureau) or the EB (Enforcement Bureau) are worth taking a look.

Note: Clicking on the NAL amount takes you to the FCC Notice.
Clicking on the cited rule number will take you to the text of the rule.

12/21/20 – 73.3598( d) – If you ask the FCC for more time to complete a CP, you should be making progress. If you ask repeatedly, and there is nothing to show, the FCC gets a bit annoyed. Florida Community Radio (FCR) got a CP for what was to be WRBD, Horseshoe Beach FL, in May of 2015. When the facility was not built in three years, FCR began asking for tolling – at least five times. But the FCC finally decided in June that instead of granting more time, they would issue a “D” …  And now, the FCC has rejected the final appeals. This one is a dead parrot … erm, CP.

12/4/20 –  17.4717.4817.5773.121673.1208 – – – The FCC has issued an Order, concluding two EB investigations into Magic Broadcasting II’s WILN, Panama City FL. The Order and Consent Decree, for $125k, adopts a Consent Decree to cover antenna lighting and registration violations (the antenna was apparently unlit for over a year), and contest violations, including pre-selected winners and faked, non-live callers. Magic Broadcasting also agreed to implement a Compliance Plan, Compliance Manual, and Compliance Training, and promptly report any noncompliance to the Commission.

12/2/20 – 73.3539 – The EB continues to watch and notice filings that are made past deadlines. A pair of Cullman AL stations owned by Jimmy Dale Media, WFMH and WMCJ, substantially missed the December 1, 2019 deadline by filing on March 30, 2020. The licensee claimed to be “struggling financially” and “working days and many nights,” along with not being told of FCC rules and requirements by legal counsel. The FCC did not accept the excuses and fined the licensee $3k for each station, a total of $6k.

11/12/20 – 73.3559 – Late filing for license renewal has tripped up for than a couple of stations this year. The latest to feel the FCC’s Fin1 Machine are KLSP(FM), Angola, LA and KVDP(FM), Dry Prong, LA. Each received an NALF for $3K for the late filing, nearly missing even the expiration date of their license. (Yes, KLSP is at the Louisiana State Prison, where the station is already “locked up.”)

11/5/20 –  73.3539 – Without explanation, South Central Oklahoma Christian Broadcasting Inc. licensee of KOUI(FM), Louisville, MI filed its renewal four months late, on June 1, 2020, the actual date of the license expiration, instead of on February 3, 2020 . The NALF issued for $3k, is, again, the FCC’s way of saying “do it on time.”

10/30/20 –  73.3539 – filing renewals on time means by the renewal date set out by the Commission, not the actual date the existing license runs out. With the license running out on April 1, 2020, Imani Communications’ WBFZ, Selma AL did not meet the filing date of October 1, 2019. In fact, the application was filed March 23, 2020 – not 8 days early, but almost six months late. The NALF issued for $3k is the FCC’s way of saying “do it on time.” (1/13/21 – Followup: The FCC did reduce the fine to $500, in response to a demonstration of inability to pay. )

10/26/20 – Sections 310 and 11.1173.84073.845, and 73.878 – The FCC continues its enforcement against LPFM stations that violate the Rules. Jupitor Community Radio, Inc, operators of WJUP-LP, Jupitor FL, received an NALF for $25k, due to a failure to operate according to the authorization, LPFM technical rules, not making the station available for inspection, and not having EAS equipment (nor logs). According to the FCC Field Agent, the station was running more than eight times the authorized ERP at a site 1/3 of a mile from where it was licensed.

10-6-20 – Sections 310(d) and 399B, 73.50373.860, and 73.865 – The Marconi Broadcasting Foundation (no known connection to Gugliemo) has agreed to pay $15k and institute a compliance program to resolve violations of several rules at WWRI-LP, Coventry RI, including ownership issues, commercial announcements, license transfer, and filing requirements for an LPFM station.

8/10/20 – 315(e)(3), 73.1943 – It seems each day several more groups of Consent Decrees again have gone out from the FCC, for many stations – most smaller than the first group – in the current renewal queue. The Commission is apparently serious about the failure of proper political file entries in many of those stations’ files. This should be a warning to all stations still working on their renewals, as well as anyone taking political ads in the coming election season.

While it is not stated directly, it is apparent that we are seeing one of the “advantages” of having the FCC Public Information File online: Candidates and organizations can scan your Public File to see if there are any competing political ads and how much is being paid for them. This likely drove enough complaints that the FCC felt they had to do something about it.

8/5/20 – 1.903(a), 74.1235(e) – FM stations are licensed by ERP (Effective Radiated Power), while translators are licensed by TPO (Transmitter Power Output). These are not the same. Ondas de Vida’s K256BS in Palmdale CA has received a Memorandum Opinion and Order affirming a $12k fine for running excessive power. The amount, numerically, was not that great: 7.5 W TPO vs 5 W licensed into a directional antenna, to create 33.7 W ERP. But, as the FM band continues to become more crowded, the FCC is taking a stronger stance against such actions by stations.

The licensee sought a reduction, based on no previous monetary fines. However, the FCC pointed out their record was not quite so good,(Footnote 41!) with other examples of excessive power and other violations.

7/22/20 – 315(e)(3), 73.1943 – The FCC requires stations to upload additions to the Political File “as soon as possible” for public inspection. Six major groups have not been doing so, but the Commission has decided to a Consent Decree, where Alpha Media USA LLC; Beasley Media Group Licenses, LLC; Cumulus Media New Holdings Inc.; Entercom License, LLC; iHeartMedia, Inc.; and Salem Media Group, Inc. – holders of 1884 commercial licenses – will implement strict compliance programs and report on the compliance programs to the Media Bureau for the next 17 months.

7/8/20 – 73.1216 – Two stations received NALFs for not conducting radio contests substantially as announced or advertised, a violation of 73.1216. Two radio stations were found to have apparently broken these rules. An NALF for $6k went to Townsquare Media’s KSII, El Paso TX, and an NALF for $5.2k to Gow Media’s KFNC, Mont Belvieu TX. The fines were upheld even though the stations eventually managed to provide some settlement for the content winners – the delays, attributed to employee errors, deemed unacceptable by the FCC.

7/2/20 – 73.503(d) – NCE and LPFM stations are prohibited from airing advertising commercials. KELS-LP, Greeley, CO, seems to have gone a bit over the limitations of underwriting announcements, running some 1600 commercials for 14 companies over the period covered by the NALF for $15k. (In Exhibit 1, the FCC gives examples of what are prohibited ads.) While noting there had been complaints about KELS-LP as early as 2015, and they could have fined KELS-LP up to $512K, the NALF was issued for only $15k.

7/1/20 – In an unusual move, two Boston Pirates, Radio Concorde, and Radio TeleBoston, have agreed to a fine, to destroy their gear, and no longer be involved in pirate broadcasting for at least 20 years. The payments of $9k are far short of the $604k the FCC had assessed, but the outcome is better than most such enforcement efforts. There are two separate Orders: here and here.

6/3/20 – 73.3539 – Another fine for a late Renewal Application. DWTOY (AM), Salem, VA will have the “D” deleted when they pay a $7k fine. The FCC reduced the fine by $4k, but sanctioned WTOY with a two-year renewal term.

5/5/20 – 73.3539 – With just four days left, WMBT-LP, Gainsville FL, barely got its renewal application before the license expired (or, four months late). The FCC noted the delay and issued an NALF for a $1.5k fine.

4/9/20 – 73.1745 – Daytimers must keep an eye (and ear) out to ensure the station shuts down at sundown. Cumulus’ KBED, Nederland TX has received an NOV for operation after sunset. A missing tower “door” was noted, although repaired after the FCC notification. The station is to explain further the “failure of remote system.”

4/7/20 – 11.45 – For some reason, air “talent” seems not to have gotten the message about the misuse of EAS tones in skits/jokes/etc. Entercom’s WNEW NY has been sent an NALF for $20k for the misuse of the EAS attention signal in a morning program. Alerted by a whistleblower, the determined that the morning team apparently made fun of the nationwide WEA test on October 2, 2018. As Entercom did not disclose the violation, it was increased from $8k to $20k.

3/2/20 – 11.5273.120173.187073.1690, The River Delta Unified School District received an NOV for operations by KRVH, Rio Vista CA. The station was not monitoring the proper EAS sources, the Station ID did not include the City of License, no Chief Operator was designated, and having a different antenna than authorized. The FCC gave KRVH 20 days to respond with explanations that were acceptable.

3/2/20 – 74.125174.1232 – The FCC requires translator operators to notify the Commission when changing the primary station and showing a “technical need” for the change. Carolina Radio Group’s W225DF in Raleigh NC received a Forfeiture Order for $2k as the FCC says they did not respond to an NALF in December 2019.

2/26/20 – 73.84073.1820 – An NOV was issued to an KCGG-LP, Kansas City MO, for being way over power. Instead of 10 Watts, the station was running 49.9 Watts, or 499% of the authorized power. The NOV also noted the station, owned by Iglesia Pentecostal Casa De Dios Para Las Naciones Inc , did not have any EAS logs.

2/19/20 – A cluster in the St. Louis area is having its authorizations pulled. The Order of Dismissal affects the stations controlled by controversial talk host, Robert S. “Bob” Romanik, despite documentation showing someone else as owner of Entertainment Media Trust in St. Louis. Romanik is a convicted felon, and unable to hold a license. The upshot is that the license renewals were dismissed and KZQZ-AM (98 years on the air, orginally as WIL), KQQZ-ZM, WQQW-AM, and KFTK-AM are all headed for silence.

2/14/20 – Now it is KNCR, Fortuna CA that has received a “pay up or lose the license” from the FCC. The Show Cause Order notes some $14k in unpaid fees dating back to 2007. Del Rosario Talpa, Inc has 60 days to pay the $14 plus fines and interest or receive the “D”

2/11/20 – Occasionally the FCC pulls the trigger a bit too quickly. A notice today rescinds the license revocation for Cox Broadcast’s WCGA, Woodbine GA (see 1/16/20, below). The FCC acknowledges a December pleading that was not yet considered, hence the revocation is rescinded pending action on the pleading.

Meanwhile, KVOZ, Del Mar Hills TX, received a “pay up or lose the license” notice (aka Show Cause) from the FCC, for failure to pay regulatory fees for the past four years. The company is to pay some $12k plus fines and interest in 60 days or KVOZ becomes DKVOZ.

2/3/20 – 73.1720 – Daytime radio stations are supposed to “run down at sundown.’ Failure to do that could cause interference to others and – as Townsquare Media’s WUPE in Pittsfield MA learned – an NOV from the FCC. Agents monitored WUPE from Nov 27 to Dec 1 and heard it well beyond sunset each of those days and issued an NOV.

1/28/20 – 73.1208 – If you say “live” on the air, you need to be live. Salem Media Group has just agreed to an Order to pay $50k for failing to note a broadcast of Healthline Live on KRLA, Glendale CA, was actually pre-recorded. (Some might remember that, in the day, it was common to announce a program as “transcribed.”) Apparently, the tip-off to the complainant was that the host had died before the broadcast.

Replaying a program previously recorded? If there is probability the average listener might think it is live, it never hurts to disclose the origins. In general, voicetracking tends to follow the pattern of automation, with previously recorded voices run over music, etc. However, we are not lawyers here. If in doubt, consult your DC attorney.

1/28/20 – 73.3541 – It may take the FCC some time to get around to matters, but DWNBN, Meridian MS, the now deleted station of the late Frank Rackley, Jr. is gone. The Memorandum Report and Order notes that the 2011 renewal application was not filed until October 2012. The involuntary transfer of the license was not filed December 2017, until nearly six years after Rackley died, instead in 30 days as required – with the station operated by “undisclosed” persons.

1/26/20 – 1.1164 – You have to pay. Not just fines, but the regulatory fees. KIJN, Farell TX, is in danger of becoming DKIJN, unless they rapidly pay the fees and fines accrued since 2013, now over $14k plus fines. Even after all these years, the FCC has given KIJN 60 days to pay up.

1/23/20 – The concern over interference from 5G broadband to terrestrial receivers of satellite programming may well be validated by a Consent Decree. In February 2019, the FCC issued an NOV to Brevard Wireless, Inc. dba Florida High Speed Internet Licensee of Station WQMJ660 for unauthorized operation in the 3.65-3.7 GHz band. This was a result of reported interference with satellite receivers in the Jacksonville FL area. The Consent Decree included a $16,000 Civil Penalty and the institution of a compliance and reporting program.

1/16/20 – If the FCC assesses a regulatory fee, it is not “optional.” WCGA, a Cox Broadcast Group in Woodbine GA, got the “D” for deleted, as it failed to pay fee repeatedly over the years (2010, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018) and did not respond to the Commission’s request for information or payment. The station was also temporarily deleted in 2005. D-WCGA is no longer licensed.

1/15/20 – An LPFM station in Las Vegas has been deleted, for operating at an unauthorized sites over a period of some 5 years, never having been at the authorized site. Under the Memorandum Opinion and Order, D-KQLS-LP Las Vegas NV is no longer licensed.

1/13/20 – All stations have a responsibility to observe the proper operation of tower lighting, keep a log, and notify the FCC (and FAA) about certain issues. Many stations do not. Cordillera Communications (purchased by Scripps Broadcast Holdings last May) was one. A 2018 plane crash into a tower at Kaplan, LA led to an investigation. The FCC determined that 10 if 11 towers were not properly maintained and observed, and 12 lighting failures were not reported. As Scripps had assumed any liabilities in the purchase, the FCC and Scripps agreed on a Consent Decree for a $1.13 million payment and an ongoing compliance program.

1/13/20 – The FCC has admitted errors in processing renewal applications, and rescinded fine for three stations: WHDZ, Buxton NCW281CH, Washington NC, and W282CQ, Bridgeton NC. All were fined for failing to file by August 1, 2019. Then the FCC realized that it would not have been possible to file on time, due to the dates of the existing or applied for licenses. Curiously, W281CH is licensed to the Pirate Radio Group.

1/7/20 – A rather massive Consent Decree has been entered into to resolve an investigation into practices by WBPU, DeQueen AR and KTYC, Nashville AR, in violating the underwriting laws by running inappropriate advertisements. The Order sets a fine of $76k and the implementation of a compliance program.