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.
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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.
5/31/23 – When you make a statement to the FCC, they expect the truth. Gendreau Broadcast LLC, licensee of KCLN(AM), Clinton, Iowa just received a Memorandum Opinion and Order and Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) for $11k. The station failed to observe required filing and posting links for the OPIF – and lied about it! They also operated at variance to the Authorization for months, without an STA.
Oh, yes, there was an FM. And for the same violations – aside from the non-authorized operation, an NAL for $8k was issued.
5/12/23 – LPFMs are not supposed to run commericals… just like NCEFMs. However, the FCC caught KELS-LP in Greeley, CO running thousands of spots and issued a $15k Forfeiture Order to get their attention.
4/25/23 – The EB push to try to do something to limit the pirate broadcasters has now reached the concept of fining landlords $2 million or so. This week, 16 landlords, mostly in New York City, got letters warning of the fines. This is added to previous such letters. Will it have a significant effect? We await word from the FCC.
4/12/23 – 0.111 – The FCC does not revoke licenses too often, but when confronted with owners who were convicted of a felony, the Commission does act. Roger Wahl, owner of WQZS(FM), Meyersdale, PA, was convicted of one felony and four misdemeanors – related to taking hidden camera pictures of a woman and then posing as her online. The Revocation Order will be effective in May, as the Commission denied Wahl’s attempt to transfer the station.
3/15/23 – 1.1151 – Another station, this one KIRT in Mission, TX, has gotten an adverse reaction from the FCC for not paying regulatory fees in 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 – more than $30k. The Order to Show Cause give the station 60 days to pay up or face deletion.
3/15/23 – 511 – The FCC EB has delivered on its threat to fine pirate stations and/or landlords. Two such fines were issued this week, the big one was $2,316,034 issure to two brothers operating a station in Queens, NY. The NALF notes the brothers had been at it since at least 2014, and had ignored a previous NALF and a seizire of their transmission gear by US Marshalls in 2016.
The other pirate station was in Oregon, the NALF was for $80,000, really small compared to the Ayora brothers.
2/15/23 – 312(g) – Not only is not paying fees (see 2/7/23 below) a reason for the FCC to by unhappy, being off the air for 12 months – and then going back on the air from an unauthorized location – is definitely not good.
DKTHO South Lake Tahoe, CA and its associated translater went silent in December 2018 when the station did not pay the tower owner. Correspondance followed with some apparent untruths and operation of the translator alone. The FCC learned of the duplicity and cancelled the licenses.
More excuses followed, but the FCC held firm and this date denied all appeals and confirmed the deletions.
2/7/23 – The FCC does not fool around. If you do not pay the regulatory fees due, it will put you on “red light” status. That means you will not get actions on applications, including license renewal, and may even actually lose the license itself, as DWEKC (yes, the D stands for “Deleted”) most recently did.
There is a lot more than just the “red light” status with this one, including failure to file applications on time, failure to file appeals on time, etc. This letter is worth considering, failure to engage with the FCC will likely be fatal.
1/26/23 – Someone at Fox thought it was cute to use EAS tones in a promotional piece on 11/28/22. The FCC, on the other hand, viewed it rather differently, using Section 11.45 and issuing an NALF for $504k to Fox Corporation and its stations – 18 O&Os (the tones also ran on 190 Fox Sports Radio affiliates, some iHeart stations, and SiriusXM satellite radio.
The Commission noted the “overall effect of falsely warning listeners and viewers of a non-existent emergency, as the EAS Tones were clearly audible, cognizable, and appropriated for a non-emergency use. This manner of appropriation of the EAS Tones is exactly the type of simulation that the Commission’s rules seek to address and prohibit in order to avoid diluting the EAS Tones’ real meaning over time.”
The Commission also noted that Fox did not report the false alert tones. All in all, the EB mulitplied the fine up from $8k by 18 to get $144k, and then increased it 3.5 times to $504k to ensure Fox got the message that the FCC is not tolerating misuses of the EAS tones. All stations should take the time to ensure staff knows at least this part of the FCC Rules!
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.
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.
7/15/22 – 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!
7/18/22 – 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.
7/14/22 – 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 mightiliy 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 govenment 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.
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 –
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.
Unity Broadcasing’s FM Translator Station W264DV in Kissimmee, FL ran afoul of the FCC by building without a permit, trying to get on the air before the CP expired. The NALF notes that the station was at the verge of the CP expiring when it discovered there was no building permit for the operation. Operation was amonth later than the CP expiration, and the License to Cover was still another month further late. The end result was a fine of $3.5k
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.
12/30/21 – 73.1231, 73.1263, 73.1820 – The FM translators assigned to AM stations must rebroadcast the permitted station and no others. KMTL(AM), Sherwood, AR went silent for several periods in January 2020. Among the problems the FCC found were missing Station Logs (needed to prove compliance – or not), missing Issues & Program filings, and rebroadcast of either original programming or that of another AM station.
12/27/21 – 73.1740, 73.3526 – Birach Broadcasting’s KTUV, Little Rock AR (and the associated translator) received an NALF for $17.5k for being silent for two and a half months before seeking an STA to remain silent. Also, it noted there were a number of late filings of the Issues & Programs lists, along with some completely missing.
12/23/21 – 73.1740 – If a station is not on the air, the FCC expects to be notified asked for an STA. RockingM Media Wichita KS acknowledged long periods of not operating. The NALF for $7k with a short leash (January 1st) notes the substantial time without operation, with no notification – in fact, they came close to the one year rule for automatic deletion.
12/23/21 – 73.3539 – The FCC really does not like it when forms and applicatlations are late. As noted, we have seen a regular stream of NALs for later renewal applications. This one is to KAPR, Douglas AZ. Instead of tendering the application by June 1st, Sonora Broadcasting filed on September 27th, just four days before the license expired. The FCC issed the usual NALF for $3k.
12/10/21 – 11.45 – A “stunt” with EAS tones by a “talent” (who was not a station employee but who bought time) at Beasley Media Group’s KDWN, Las Vegas NV has resulted in an NALF for $20k. The violation was reported by the the “board operator” to management after the event.
11/30/21 – 73.3526 , 73.3514 – the FCC is ordering more and larger fines for not uploading the Issues & Programs lists on time each quarter – and then not admitting to it. Unity Broadcasting has been fined $38k for two of their TV stations.
11/15/21 – 17.23, 17.47, 17.57 An AM station owner – SPB, LLC, Greeenwood, MS – entered into a consent decree and was fined $1,400 for the failure to properly maintain its tower lights, monitor them daily, and report a change in the ownership of the tower. The fine was reduced when the owner made a financial showing that it could not pay a higher fine.
11/4/21 – Alabama Media in Dothan AL has agreed to pay $13k for a Consent Decree and Order relating to violations on translator W299BX.
Listed by the FCC inculded changing the transmitter sites without authorization, operating the translator during times the primary station was off the air, and not notifying the FCC as required when the translator was silent for more than 10 consecutive days.
11/2/21 – The FCC gets really annoyed if a station starts construction before the environmental assessment was completed and a CP is issued. Fort Myers Broadcasting agreed to pay $20k for the pre-mature start.
11/2/21 – 73.3539 – License renewals are due four months before the license expires. WPGS, Mims FL waited until the day before expiration to file its renewal application on January 31, 2021. Despite the FCC asking for an explanation, none was received, so the FCC responded with a Forfeiture Order for $3k.
And then there is WENO in Nashville TN. Their license was to expire August 1, 2020 – the renewal application came in not on April 1st but July 31st.
10/28/21 – 73.3539 – License renewals are due four months before the license expires. KLND, Little Eagle SD was very late – just one week short of the license expiration on April 1, 2021. The licensee had the excuse of not having the password for the LMS, due to a change in managers. The FCC issued an NALF for $3k. (At least they did not claim the dog ate the renewal application or the password.)
10/27/21 – When you get a CP, it is designated exactly where to build it – not miles away. A Memorandum Report and Order deletes the license for DKQEK-LP, Cupertino CA. The station was noted for being 3.5 miles from its authorized site, with a higher antenna HAAT – effectively doubling its coverage – and operated there for two years before the FCC ordered it off the air. Additionally, the FCC noted that four hours of operation from a telescoping antenna was not considered a completion of construction.
CP and The EB has rescinded the NALF to two translator stations in Texas. After a second look, the EB acknowledges that they did not issue the first license until six weeks after the renewal date for Texas stations.
9/30/21 – The EB has rescinded the NALF to two translator stations in Texas. After a second look, the EB acknowledges that they did not issue the first license until six weeks after the renewal date for Texas stations.
9/28/21 – 73.3539 – And another batch of fines for late renewals were released.
9/27/21 – 73.3526 and 73.3527 – The FCC has set deadlines for uploading certain files to the Online Public File. Being late is not a good thing, as the EB does check. WDHN, Dothan AL filed all their reports, but 14 of them were late. from one day to some over a year. The NALF is for $9k.
Similarly, WBEC-TV, Boca Raton FL received an NALF for $3k for 9 late reports and WYCW Asheville, NC got an NALF for $3k for 4 late reports.
9/24/21 – 73.3539 – Sometimes a late renewal is caused by missing what seems like a small matter. In the case of Diponti Communications’ W276DF, Westerly RI , they bought a translator and moved it. But they did not fully realize the translator was part of a one-year renewal due to bad actions on the previous owner. About three years later, Diponti asked the Commission to issue an STA and renew the translator license. The FCC says it will, after a $7k fine in the NAL. The warning to all owners is that “‘Inadvertence’ … is at best ignorance of the law, which the Commission does not consider a mitigating circumstance.”
9/6/21 – 73.503 and 73.801 – Non-Commercial stations like LPFMs are supposed to be … non-commercial. That means support can be drawn from underwriting and short announcements that typically are restrained by several factors, including no “call to action” statements. The FCC found that WAWL-LP, Grand Haven, MI had run a number of announcements that ran afoul of the Rules for at least eight months. Noting that Underwriting Laws were broken, a Consent Decree was entered into for $17.5k
Another late renewal issue: WRIA-LP in Jacksonville, FL did not file a Renewal Application as required by Oct 1, 2019, and even after the Staff issued a Public Notice, the application was not filed until February, 2020. The EB issued an NALF for $7k.
9/3/21 – 73.3539 – Another late renewal issue: WRIA-LP in Jacksonville, FL did not file a Renewal Application as required by Oct 1, 2019, and even after the Staff issued a Public Notice, the application was not filed until February, 2020. The EB issued an NALF for $7k.
9/3/21 – 73.3598 – A Construction Permit is not an Operating License. An Application for License must be filed before the Construction Permit runs out.
8/24/21 – The FCC database and online filing system occasionally “burps” and stations have difficulties. Potter Radio in Brantley AL, tried to file their Renewal Application, but an error in LMS data entry by the FCC made it impossible. Although saying the station could have fixed it a bit sooner, the EB did cancel the fine it had levied, noting the error n the LMS.
8/6/21 – 11.45 On the eve of the 2021 NPT, the FCC has issued an NALF to ESPN for $20k. The incident, which occurred last October 27, during a program “30 for 30,” which depicted a weather emergency in Alabama in 2011. ESPN admitted the they ran the tone, but said it was less than 2 seconds. The FCC pointed out that any use of such tones is a violation and this was not the first time ESPN had done this (having paid $280k for a similar violation in 2015), and increased the “normal” fine from $8k to $20k
8/5/21 – 74.1234, 74.1283, 74.1284 – Station owner Ed Stolz continues to have unwelcome contact with the FCC. Currently, two NOV’s have been issued against a pair of Stolz’ Palm Springs translators (and also) licensed as Major Market Radio. With the main station in receivership – and off the air since May – the translators have been accused of throwing dead carriers, without ID, and/or relaying an unauthorized signal.
Stolz continues to fight the court and is now protesting the sale of stations by the receiver. All of this, starting with his wanted to cancel his sale of a Sacramento CA station continues to wander through the court system.
7/15/21 – 73.3527 – The Issues & Programs upload is another are the EB continues to monitor. You are supposed to file by the 10th following each quarter, but the FCC has, up to this point, not really quibbled about a couple of days here and there. But if you fail to upload quarter after quarter, you can expect a fine.
For example: VPM Media in Virginia, received an NALF for $9k.
7/9/21 – 73.3539 – the EB continues fines for late renewals. WJPM-LP in Palatka, FL, was given an NALF for $3.5k. They could have been bit for something like $10k, because the station not only was late, but operated after the license expired – essentially becoming a pirate. However, the EB granted a very nice reduction for a “secondary service.”
6/8/21 – 73.3539 – As noted below (3/18/21), each day brings another NAL or two because of late renewal applications. This is, like the Issues & Programs filing, low hanging fruit for the EB.
A couple of recent samples:
WAAU-LD, Augusta, GA
FM Translator K266AK, Aspen, CO
5/14/21 – Section 315(e)(3), 73.1943 – Not only are the EB actions continuing, but reports indicate the emphasis on “immediately” meaning that waiting even a couple of days to upload to the OPIF can bring enforcement. Another trap: political ads in syndicated programming. These must also be reported – immediately – even if the syndicator did not inform you! More than one station is now under a Consent Decree and a lot of paperwork because they missed this one!
5/5/21 – Section 315(e)(3), 73.1943 – Well over 2000 stations have now been caught and acquiesed to Consent Decrees relating to their failure to have their on-line political files done properly. As the renewal season progresses, we will no doubt see more – anywhere from one to five a day! – and eventually, the Consent Decrees will end and NALFs will become the “norm.”
4/2/21 – Section 309, 317 – Another example of a station that thought two days of low power operation in a year would protect the license. The FCC ordered a Hearing to decide if the license for WJEH(AM), Gallipolis, OH should be revoked.
3/10/21 – Section 309, 317 –The FCC rather expects licensed stations to operate, especially if the station expects to have the license renewed. Some stations have tried to skirt the FCC’s 12-month Rule (If no operation for 12 months, the license is cancelled) by operating for very brief periods.
The Commission views long periods of silence with short periods of operation, often at minimal power, as unacceptable. It states: “Silence instead of licensed operation is a fundamental failure to serve [a] station’s community of license, because a silent station offers that community no public service programming such as news, public affairs, weather information and Emergency Alert System notifications. Moreover, brief periods of station operation sandwiched between prolonged periods of silence are of little value because the local audience is not accustomed to tuning in to the station’s frequency.”)
For that reason, the application for WSYL AM, Sylvania GA has been designated for a Hearing due to almost no operation over the past several years. According to the chart in the Order, WSYL was silent for 99% of the time since April 2020 – the two days it operated were at 20 Watts (2% of authorized power) – and was off three times as much as it was on since January 2018.
UPDATE: 3/26/21 – the owners of WSYL have withdrawn their application for license renewal.
3/9/21 – The FCC continues fines and Consent Decrees for stations failing to file renewal applications or update political files on time.
Among the most recent: KHOE, Fairfield IA, WCCX, Waukesha WI, W280FH, Leitchfield KY, WCHW-FM Bay City MI, and KXJX-LP, Clinton IA, for late filings, and Radio One Licenses for political files.
2/22/21 – The FCC demonstrates a willingness to forgive some fines – to some stations. W278BK in Jenkins KY was fined $1.5 for a late renewal application. But after submitting three years of tax returns, the EB agreed the translator station could not afford the fine.
Meanwhile WEHS-LP, Eupora MS received an NALF for $1.5k for being late.
2/15/21 – 315(e)(3), 73.1943 – We have not been listing each and every ORDER being issued to stations that did not update their political files properly – there have been some almost every week since the FCC nailed six major companies for violations last July (7/22/20 and 8/10/20, below). The Enforcement Bureau has, even after numerous ORDERS and Consent Decrees, a large list of stations that failed to upload additions to the Political File “as soon as possible” for public inspection.
While this time around, the EB has not issued a lot of fines, but has delay license renewals and, insisted on comprehensive compliance plans to ensure future filings are timely. You can be certain the costs of the lawyers and compliance programs exceeds fines for similar first-time violations.
It is worth acknowledging that this is truly “low hanging fruit” for the EB, so stations should pay careful attention – this certainly will still be a “sensitive” matter in the next elections.
2/12/21 – 73.3539 – It took less than two months past the deadline to file for renewal, but WLDC-LP, Goshen, IN was still late, but did attract an NALF for $1.5k On the other hand, WBCR(AM) Alcoa, TN finally got their renewal in almost four months late, just four days before the license expired. This NAF was for $3k.
2/12/21 – Felons are not permitted by the FCC to hold licenses nor sell them for profit. Michael G. Hubbard, former Speaker of the House in Alabama was convicted of felonies. The FCC has now started a Hearing to Show Cause why the should not strip Hubbard of his six licenses and a CP.
2/8/21 – 73.3539 – Another translator renewal application has been cited for lateness. FCR Broadcasting’s W287BE in Greenwood IN was about six weeks late, resulting in an NALF for $1500.
2/5/21 – 73.3539 – The translators Renewal applications need to be filed on time, just like main station. The FCC issued NALFs for two companies in Kentucky for late filings last Spring. Heritage Media of Kentucky’s W280FH in Leitchfield KY, and Letcher County Broadcasting’s W278BK in Jenkins KY each drew $1500 fines for late filings.
1/19/21 – 73.503 – LPFM stations are not permitted to run paid commercial announcements (as opposed to underwriting). The Athenian Multicultural Study Club’s WPLP-LP, Athens, GA admitted to running nine such announcements and accepted a Consent Decree to pay $10k and institute a Compliance program.
1/14/21 – An NALF issued to Cumulus (see 8/6/19) has turned into a Forfeiture Order, as the FCC has denied cancelling or reducing the fine – $233k – for a series of violations regarding sponsor identification and the Consent Decree ($540k) coming out of previous violations.
1/5/21 – This item is a few months old, but worth noting for a couple of the key points – especially the need to do as the FCC instructs, and not seek forgiveness later. In 2013, Foundation For A Beautiful Life, Inc. (FBL) applied for and was eventually granted CP for an LPFM in Cupertino CA. The record details a series of Objections, changed applications, requests for reconsideration, and more objections which led the FCC to issue a CP that was returned by the Post Office as “Attempted – Not Known.”
After some further applications – and objections – the CP was reinstated, but when the Form 319 was filed, the day before the CP was to expire, the FCC was informed KQEK-LP was built 5.6 km from the authorized site. FBL claimed it was an “innocent error” and accused others of racism. After more letters and replies pleading all sorts of reasons and excuses, the FCC finally dismissed the license application and deleted the call sign in early 2019, and continued to knock down pleadings through October.
However, FBL was not done. In early 2020, now DKQEK-LP was back on the air, seeking relief via another series of pleadings. Finally in April 2020, the FCC issued a “Cease and Desist Order.” The station appears to be off the air, but pleading continued at least into August of last year.
If you are interesting in following some of the convolutions, RECnet has listed many of the documents, although some of the pleadings lead to a bad URL: www.recnet.com/kqek
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 – 17.47, 17.48, 17.57, 73.1216, 73.1208 – – – 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 11.11, 73.840, 73.845, 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, 73.503, 73.860, 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 – 11.52, 73.1201, 73.1870, 73.1690, 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 – 74.1251, 74.1232 – 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 – 73.840, 73.1820 – 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.
1/26/20 – 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.
1/28/20 – 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.
1/23/20 – 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 NC, W281CH, 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.