The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

FCC Enforcement Watch Archive: 2022

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.

12/28/22 – For the second time in two weeks (see 12/7/22, below, the FCC has issued paperwork regarding the markeing of unauthorized transmission devices – illegal FM transmitters – in the US. 

Broadcast Supply Worldwide was cited for selling the Rolls HR70 FM Broadcast Transmitter (HR70), the Decade MS-100, MS-100M, and MS-100S in violation of the Rules.

BSW immediately complied and stopped the sale of the units.

12/22/22 – We have mentioned this before: if you have a CP, build it exactly where it says. The FCC pulled the authorization for Powell Meredith Communications, the permittee of W270CS, Gulfport, MS, due to construction at a different location than specified and a long period of non-operation immediately following the original license grant.

The FCC reasoned the installation was improper for being 30 yards from its permitted site, and “temporary” because it did not operate continuously for 12 months. Despite an appeal, the license was recinded.

12/16/22 – It looks like the long KSCO Santa Cruz, CA saga (see 10/19/22, below) is about to end. This long-running issue, since the STA ran out in the 1990s, recently got renewed attention at the FCC, which had issued an NALF for $20k to theZwerling Broadcasting System. 

Now, it is a Forfeiture Order, and the threat is that the station may lose its license if they do not correct matters. The station is now reputed to be for sale – but a new owner would have to contend with all the hassles of fixing the RF plant, plus deal with California’s engvironmental rules and the activists. This station may have a difficult time surviving. 

The station is being offered for $1.5 million. If there are no takers, Zwerling says he will go from all-local to all-syndicated programming on January 1st. 

12/7/22 – A Citation and Order from the FCC has notified B&H Foto that they are liable for $22,000 a day for selling any of seven illegal FM transmitting devices. 

The Commission has given B&H a month to stop the sales and report to the Commission their ongoing policies. 

11/23/22 – The FCC has, for the first time, actually moved to block a provider on the phone network in the US because they did not comply in reducing illegal robocalls. Global UC customers cannot access the regular phone network and other providers must stop doing business with Global UC.

At the same time, the FCC notes that downstream providers may not block 911 calls and must take reasonable efforts not to block calls from public safety answering points (PSAPs) and government emergency numbers.

10/26/22 – We all know pirate stations are bad, especially for interference issues. The FCC has been sending out warnings to landlords telling them they are liable for fins of $2 million for allowing a pirate to be on site. 

Interestingly, we have not heard of any actual levy being made nor any court case attached. It is a scare at the moment. Will it become a real issue?

10/19/22 – 73.1350, 73.1560(a)(1), 73.1635, 73.1690(b), and 73.1745(a) The FCC really does not like it when stations make their own rules – especially if the FCC has told them to stop. KSCO in Santa Cruz, CA got an STA in 1993 to run 1 kW ND at night instead of 5 kW DA. 30 years later, they are still doing it, although the STA ran out in 1996.

After several queries and the situation continued = the station claiming they were better service the market at low power, the FCC finally got tired and issued an NALF for $20k. The station also got a short term (2 year) renewal to ensure they set the operation to match the license. 

10/19/22 – 73.1350, 73.1650, 73.1635, and 73.1745 The WALQ, Carrville, AL license ran out in June 2021. The station did file for an STA to operate at reduced power, but that also ran out in September 2022. The FCC decided to give the station a 2-year renewal and an $11k fine, according to the NALF.

10/4/22 – 73.1350(a)  The EB has found a station  which seems to have moved to a new location – about three miles – without asking or telling the FCC.  Ben Jordan’s WBRQ La Grange GA was (in July)  operating a booster without permission. Now the EB is back, noting operation at some three miles from where it is permitted. 

Are you where the FCC thinks you are located?

8/8/22 – 73.1212(a) – The FCC usually rules against ads run without information as to who is paying for it. Another red line is “news stories” that are actually planted appearances by individuals or even legally qualified candidates for office – but the station is paid to carry the segment. 

Reynolds Media, Inc., lLicensee of Low Power Digital TV Station K26GS-D, Harrison, AR received an Order with a price tag of $60k, plus a compliance program to ensure compiance with the Sponsor Identification Rules.

8/1/22 – 2.803 – A New York company Sound Around received a Forfeiture Order for $685,338 for maketing 32 models of non-compliant wireless microphones. 

7/19/22 – 73.1350(a) – There are few stations that would not like to increase their signal, either for building penetration or distant contours. However, the FCC has issued an NOV to WWWK  Islamorada, FL for building and operating a directional antenna nearly 30 miles from their authorized site.

7/19/22 – 301, 73.3533, 74.1232, 73.277 – Another bad move in the FCC’s view is to contruct a booster without a permit. The NOV to WBRQ(FM) Lagrange, GA Quoteing four rules, the FCC simply restates “Ben Jordan [Communications Corporation] was operating a booster station without filing an application with the Commission.” Unless there is a good excuse, this will likely lead to an NALF.

7/18/22 – 309(k)(2) – Just as it finally got tired of the gaming with translators and other CPs that would operate for an hour and shut down, the FCC has signalled it has had enough of stations sitting dark for much of the license period. 

Mekaddesh Group Corporation’s seven stations in Texas spent so much time dark that the FCC allowed only a one year renewal and stern warning that such lengthy dark time is a fundamental failure to serve a broadcast station’s community of license.

Birach Broadcasting’s n KJMU(AM) Sand Springs, Oklahoma likewise drew a one year license renewal due to excessive time without operation – 50% of the time it was silent. 

7/15/22 – 511 – The FCC is issuing more letters to landlords about the potential $2 million fines for permitting pirate stations on their building. 

We are still waiting for the first landlord to pay up!

7/14/22 – 74.788 – It you build it, they need a license. The FCC issued an NALF for $6500 to Low Power Television Station K27OO-D, Ellensburg, WA. Simply stated, the station, built in 2019, did not file for a license until July 6, 2022, long after the FCC had cancelled the CP in July 2021. The station did prove it had built on time, but had no excuse for not filing for a license. 

7/8/22 – 73.1225 – It should be pretty plain: if a station is operating, the FCC can come and inspect it. For some reason the staff and owner of WDZP-LP decided not to cooperate. The FCC has now issued an NOV for failure to allow inspection

6/23/22 – 310,  73.3540 – The Commission does not like it when control of a station is changed without their assent. KYRN(FM), Socorro, New Mexico ran into trouble during its renewal application process, as it seems they transferred control twice without Commission approval. After looking into it, the3 Commsiion did renew the license, but a Consent Degree has the station paying $1.5k to the US Treasury.

6/14/22 –  73.3598 – In short, new Construction Permits require stations to be build on time, at the location authorized, and not be temporary. In a letter to Powell Meredith Communications Co. the Commission notified the company that it was rescinding the license grant for W270CS, Gulfport MS for failure to construct and operate as authorized. 

6/13/22 –  301, 74.788 – When a station has a Construction Permit, it is bad form not to file an application for license when constructed. It is worst to miss the date by years. Methow Valley Communications District built K44EN-D, Methow, Washington and operated for three years without a license and only filed for one six months after the CP expired. The NALF was for$6.5k, because the Commission noted it was “secondary service.”

6/9/22 –  301, 333, 1.903(a), and 7.101(d) – Hams operators often contribute mightily to communication during emergencies. However, Jason Frawley, WA7CQ has been issued an NALF for $34k – perhaps the largest fine ever issued to an Amateur Operator – for 8 transmissions in July 2021 during the “Johnson Fire” in Elk River, ID. 

Mr. Frawley claimed he was helping firefighters to combat the fire.  The Forest Service instead claimed that he interfered with government frequencies used for fire suppression aircraft. 

6/7/22 –  73.3527 –  The FCC continues to scour and find Online Public File uploads missing. Prairie Public Broadcasting received four NALFs for KMDE, KSRE, and KBME-TV and KCGE-DT for a total of $30k for failure to upload files on time. 


6/6/22 –  The FCC issued a letter to Entravision Holdings regarding failure to pay costs for moving a Prescott AZ station to a new frequency. The discussion is interesting, as it shows the beneficiary company needs to pay the costs of the station they bump, but not every conceivable cost.

6/2/22 –  73.1800 –  According to the Rules, if your automatic logger fails, you must do it manually. KBFI, Bonners Ferry,  ID did not, and the FCC is investigating the Violation.

6/1/22 –  The FCC apparently is was not kidding when they warned landlords about permitting pirate stations on their property.

This week the Commission issued a notice to Sharif Small Principle of the 5447-5459 Park Heights Ave 21215, LLC. If the landlord does not reply in 10 days, the Commission plans on levying some pretty stiff fines. It will be interesting to see how this shakes down. 

5/31/22 –  If the FCC asks you to respond to questions and submit intormation, the best solution is to do it.

In an ORDER to the Marion Education Exchange in Marion OH, the FCC notes the station has not even communicated with its DC attorney. The station has been ordered either to comply within 20 days and face a License Revocation Hearing – or, if not, have their license renewal denied. 

5/23/22 – 73.1740, 74.1263, 73.3526, and 1.65  – The FCC has this problem with stations that do not operate according to the Rules – and especially if they do not communicate with the Commission Staff.

Birach Broadcasting has received a Forfeiture Order for $17,500 for KTUV(AM), Little Rock, Arkansas – and translator – being silent without authority, Public File Violations, and not updating contact information.

Another $8k Forfeiture  went to  Windy City Broadcasting for W280EM, Chicago being silent for 11 months, changing it primary station (74.1251) , and not keeping contact information up to date. 

5/9/22 – The FCC has issued Public Notice reminding property owners that they can have up to $2 million in fines under federal law if they determine that the property owner allows any individual to operate a pirate station from their property.

Specifically, four property owners were issued letters like this one, warning that they are liable for huge fines if they do not rid their property of the pirate operations.

It will be interesting to see what happens if the FCC does file against someone.

3/14/22 – 73.3526 and 73.3527  As the Renewal Season comes to an end, it is worth remembering two of the most frequent violations in the past years, and not only keep an eye on them, but avoid the coming larger fines.

  • Not keeping the public infomation files, and especially the Issues & Programs seems to net a few NALs a week. Many were driven by the renewal process, where some stations self-reported their error. Others were caught by mechanized scans of the online public files by the EB. 

Among the most recent public file violations include KTAI in Kingsville TX and KERU in Blythe CA.  Both being NCE FM, the FCc did not seek a fine, but required a compliance policy to be instituted. 

Section 315(e)(3), 73.1943

  • With a lot of political advertisements fowing during Primary season – and an election coming up this fall, it is a good time to remember the filing rules for political ads.

During the current Renewal Season, the EB has gotten much more aggressive in dealing with uploads to the political file section of the on-line Public information File.

In fact, is has become so common, we had not  thought to comment upon it for some time, although anywhere from a couple to 5, or more, Consent Decrees were being issued almost every day. There are now hundreds and hundreds issued.

A couple of recent examples: One Putt, Fresno CA and Alexandra Communications in Bay City OR.

In each case, the station(s) failed to file requests for airtime within  7 days. So far, in lieu of a fine. in most cases the Commission has required stations to adopt a compliance policy and report to the FCC for a year. 

Failure to comply could affect the station license, and in a number of cases the FCC has held up renewels during the current renewal “season.”

3/7/22 – 73.49  – When was the last time you checked the gate(s) and lock(s) on your tower fence? If it is an AM tower, the FCC requires an effective locked fence. A recent inspection at KBET, Whinchester NV found an unlocked gate. An NOV was issued, requiring the station to explain and correct the situation. The fine will depend upon the station’s response.

3/1/22 – 73.1216  – It was in 2015 that the FCC updated the rules concerning contests and how they are run – and advertised – by stations. iHeart Media’s WBGG-FM, Fort Lauderdale, FL failed to conduct a contest as advertised. The Commission also noted this was not the first time – citing ” a history of violating the Contest Rule.” Thus an NALF has been issued for $20k

2/25/22 – 73.2080, 73.3526  – EEO compliance is not always easy. But a Cumulus cluster in Georgia seems to have gotten it rather wrong.  In addition to the requirements of the program iteself, stations are required to publish the information to the FCC Public Information File and the station website, and analyze the program as operated. The Cumulus cluster did not and the NALF was issued for $32k. 

It is worth noting that part of the reason for the stiff fine was the FCC noting at least two previous EEO violations, plus a string of other violations in the past 20 years.

2/5/22 – 73.3598  – It always seems that time moves faster than we can plan, does it not? For some reason even CPs issued for three years often must be built at the last minute and some jumping through hoops can be rather bizarre. But, you have to finish on time – including resolving local building permit issues, for example. 

2/5/22   – Section 309  If you have a license, the FCC sort of figures you ought to operate. Snake River Radio’s KCPQ Chubbuck ID  seems to have spent only 20% of the time – including only two days in one year – on the air from 2018-2021. Accordingly the FCC has set a hearing to determine if the station license should be renewed or had expired  automatically. 

2/4/22   – 73.3539  – The FCC is really touchy about operating without a license. WMOX Meridian MS not only failed to file their renewal on time (three months early), they kept on the air after their license ran out. The NAL calls for a $7k fine.