The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

NAL Watch: A Look At FCC Enforcement

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.

5/9/24 – The FCC is usually pretty helpful when stations have trouble or otherwise find themselves needed to operate “at variance.” However, the STAs are not permanent. Radio Hogar’s KASA in Phoenix ended up on a longwire due to a property sale. They went on STA, even at a lower power than usual. 

But, five years after, they were still on the “temporary” longwire antenna … and failed to renew the STA. The FCC considers the station no longer authorized and after a year, the license is cancelled

4/23/24 – 73.503, 73.1212– Non-Commercial stations are prohibited from commercial messages, expecially those with “action” words, WBAI, New York received a $25k fins, a two-year license, and more in the Consent Decree in an Order affecting all Pacifica Foundation stations. 

4/12/24 – 73.1216 – When stations run contests, they are expected to obey their own rules, as published. KXOL, Los Angeles ran a contest in October 2019, and failed to deliver a $396 prize – and 97 others – within 30 days as promised. In fact, the prizes were not fully delivered until  May 2021.

The station admitted the delay, but claimed it was due to the pandemic and a hacking incident. The Commission noted the stated delays came after the promised prize distribution date and issued an  increased NALF for $8k. 

4/10/24 – 1.17, 73.1635,  73.1745 – We see another station that decided on its own how to operate in recovering from some damage. An STA was originlly obtained, but then the station operated at variance for 6-8 years without further authorization. The Commission ordered Shelby Broadcast Associated of Tarrant, AL, operator of W2352BE to pay $10,000.

The station claimed economic hardship,  butt the FCC noted the stations was in the process of being sold, and issued a Forfeiture Order for $16,500.

4/2/24 – It is fairly well-known that the FCC takes its role in policing station owners’ reputations seriously – especially when it becomes aware of a felony conviction. Roger Wahl, owner of WQZS(FM), Meyersdale, PA was convicted in November 2020, and when the FCC became awamre, it revoked the station’s license. 

Despite appeals and attempts to explain, in a Review on Order,  the Commission held firm and confirmed the revocation. 

3/26/24 – 73.3539 – The FCC grants a lot of leeway to LPFMs, acknowledging their makeup and operational challenges. However, even LPFMs need  to file applications on time. The Mendocino Environmental Center’s KMEC-LP in Ukiah CA received an Order acknowledging the financial hardship and admonishing them for a late renewal, and cancelling the potential – this time.

3/15/24 – 73.1015, 73.1350,  73.1635, 73.1740, 73.1745, and 72.3540 – Southern Media Interactive LLC in Bruswick, GA has has a difficult time. Silent periods, operating from unauthorized locations, unauthorized transfer of control, failure to operate, failure to respond fully to an NOI or provide logs and other ducumentation, and more brought an NALF for $16.2k, reduced from a possible $30k. 

3/11/24 – A failure of “administrative oversight” is not an acceptable reason for turning in a “License to Cover” about two years after the Construction Permit expired … and four years after construction was actually completed. 

The FCC noted that Word of God Fellowship’s KUMO-LD, St. Louis, Missouri could have been fined $26k for up to six years of unauthorized opertation, but the NALF cut it to $9,500 in light of the station’s situation.  The discussion is here. 

1/25/24 – The FCC has issued a report on the status of its efforts to increase personnel and specialized equipment in order to locate more illegal radio broadcasters, finding the properties where they originate and warning property owners under the PIRATE Act (Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement). The EB has identified a number of illegal stations, some operating for years

The FCC’s  efforts under The PIRATE Act to locate and city pirate broadcasters recently swept in the area around Miami, Florida, where more warnings to landlords of fines of over $2 million were issued.  Five personal citations (totaling over $3.5 million) were issued to operators who were said to have been broadcasting for years without a license. Most eye-popping: the maximum – $2,391,097 – issued to Fabrice Polynice, who had been cited at least twice before in the past 10 years.

1/19/24 – Section 312 – Not every station can operate from a tree. But it is possible. On the other hand, “moving to an adjacent tree” without permission – coupled with some long spans of being silen – brought an “D” to KQCF(FM), Chiloquin OR,  now DKQCF(FM).

1/18/24 – 73.1212, 73.1943 – In one of the largest fines levelled at a broadcsat company, the FCC issued a Consent Decree with Townsquare Media for $500k. The issue had to do with a pair of Idaho stations (KLIX and KIDO) the Commission was investigating regarding on-air sponsor identification and the Political File uploads required by the Rules. The Consent Decree closes the case. 

1/16/24 – The US Court of Appeals denied the petition from WEKC to reinstate the license deleted last February (2/7/23, below). 

1/16/24 –73.2080 , 73.3526 – FCC has fined Cumulus Licensing LLC  for violations of EEO rules at five former stations in Georgia. The Forfeiture Order is for $26k. The EB noted that the fine was more than doubled from the base – $12k  – due to previous similar violations (2008, 2017, etc) by Cumulus holdings. The exacerbating point: the report was nine months late. 

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12/29/23 – Stuff happens. Losing a site lease, major disaster, and  other reasons can cause stations to go silent for a while, scrambling for solutions. Doing so without coordination with the FCC does not end well. For this station, deletion was the final act, although it took some eight  years to lead to the confirmation of the “D” by Letter.

Omni Broadcasting’s DWTKP, Port St. Joe., FL ran into several problems, according to their request for reconsideration. However, the FCC denied the request and deleted the station, saying, among other things, the station failed to operate for over a year at the licensed location. That alone, the EB decided, was enough to delete the license, rejecting the station’s arguments.

12/22/23 – Birach Broadcasting, which seems to have a lot of contact with the FCC, is again in the news, with KJMU, Sand Springs, OK , being given a one-year renewal and a warning to restore full normal  operations or risk losing the license. 

The station had been running for long periods of time with either low power or was silent. The Commiussion says this does not meet the public service requirements. 

12/21/23 – This past Summer, the FCC audited the Boston area, looking for pirate broadcasters. As part of that action. nine warning letters were sent to landowners in the area, warning of fines as much as $115,000 a day.

Additionally, NIPRB (Noitce of illegal Priate Broadcasting) letters also have gone out from the FCC to landowners in Sweet Home, OR, Lake Forest, CA, and Guaynabo, PR. 

11/21/23 – 73.845 , 73.875 – When the FCC issues something, it is important to read it carefully. It seems obvious not to just build something that is convenent. It needs to be where it was authorized and it has to be at the right height. Even for an LPFM. KYOM-LP in Whichita, KS was to have an antenna at 24 meters AGL. It was built at 13 meters about 33 feet lower.  The FCC noted the Violation and the Order and Consent Decree came with a $2500 cost (not to mention legal costs).

11/21/23 – 1.1151 – Th FCC apparently has gotten rather serious about stations that have not paid the regulatory fees.  In addition to the recent warning to KSLQ (see 11/2. below) Bravo Broadcasting’s KIRT in Mission, TX, was warned in March to pay the $30k owed. According to the current Revocation Order, the station apparently ignored the FCC and therefore the license has now been deleted. KSLQ may be next. 

11/2/23 – 1.1151 – The yearly Regulatory Fees are not optional. Stations must pay the FCC – and on time. KSLQ-FM, Washington, MO apparently thought it could do without the fees. The FCC has caught up with them now, after 13 years. The tab of fees, penalties and interest: $25,893.90.

The Order to Show Cause seeks to revoke the license if the station does not pay up within 60 days. 

10/16/23 – 73.2080 – The FCC’s EEO requirements are specific and detailed. And, when the EB finds stations that have not followed the rules, hefty fines can be seen.

To wit: Rocking M Media and Melia Communications in Kansas have received an NALF for $25k, for failure to post EEO information on their web site, failure to advertise the fulltime openings properly, and other issues. 

10/2/23 – The FCC and Liberty University adopted a Consent Decree revoking the license of student-run station WQLU(FM) and assessing a civil payment of $10k

According to the FCC, WQLU acted contrary to their license and were not honest with the Commission – two things that bring big trouble from the FCC. 

9/26/23 –  Several Part 17 violations – If your tower has lights and they do not come on at dusk, you have a problem – aircraft safety is at risk. You can hold off some problems by calling the FAA and having an NOTAM filed. Birach Broadcasting’s WGOP in Pocomoke City, MD did not do that when lights went out on their tower. The FCC contacted the FAA several times over the next 10 months, only to learn Birach had not contacted the FAA, nor had they taken care of a faded and flaking paint situation on the tower itself. Not having the correct street address on the ASR did not help things. 

The NOV will require Birach to respond, in writing, withing 20 days.  A fine may well follow.

9/22/23 –  The FCC has been fining stations for missing uploads to the OPIF. This one, to KVUE(TV), Austin TX, concerns late filiings. The EB issued a Memorandum and Order, and an NALF for $6k.

9/21/23 –  Consent Decrees have been agreed between the FCC and Gendreau Broadcast for OPIF violations for two Clinton, IA stations: KMCN (FM) and KCLN. Clinton. In addition, KCLN had failed to operate according to its license. Civil Penalties of $3k and $6k have been added to the Consent Decrees, a reduction from the original amounts noted, for failing to reduce power at night.

8/31/23 –  It is not always easy to repair problems instantly, but the FCC does expect to be kept up to date on any issue that lasts longer than 10 days.

WorthRome, LLC’ s KVHZ(AM), Wasilla, AK (and K296FP, Willow Creek, AK) reduced power and hours of operation, and ran silent without telling the FCC. the $7k fine was reduced due to true financial hardship. 

8/16/23 –  Most broadcasters are now aware that the FCC is monitoring the Online Public Information File each station is to update. Especially, each quarter, the EB is looking for stations that failed to upload.

So it was that when B&C Communications, LLC’s 
WPAN in Fort Walton Beach, FL did not file their I&P list – for ten cycles – an NALF was issued for $9k. 

8/7/23 – A Consent Decree concludes the FCC’s look at Oklahoma Catholic Broadcasting, Inc’s station KEUC(FM) Ringwood, Oklahoma. The station was silent from Defruary 2018 to January 2019, without properly notifying the FCC. A payment of $5000 to the US Treasury ends the matter. 

8/7/23 – A Consent Decree concludes the FCC’s look at Oklahoma Catholic Broadcasting, Inc’s station KEUC(FM) Ringwood, Oklahoma. The station was silent from Defruary 2018 to January 2019, without properly notifying the FCC. A payment of $5000 to the US Treasury ends the matter. 

7/21/23 – The EB agents have been to Miami, and told nine landlords they are liable for fines over $2.3  million because of pirate broadcasters on their property.

7/11/23 – 310, 73.3540 – When a station owner dies, ownership may pass to family or others, according to the Will. However, transfer of stock and appointment of a trustee for the estate of William O’Shaughnessy both required FCC approval. Mr. O’Shaughnessy did set up a trust before he died, but approval was not sought. Then after he passed away, the four-month delay before the application for approval to trasfer stock and appoint a new trustee was filed led the EB to issue an $8k fine ordered in the matter. 

6/29/23 – 74.1235, 73.267 – The FCC has long allowed transmitters to vary output +5/-10% to compensate for a nmber of factors. However, when at 128 Watt translator W230CO, Seaford DE, was actually running 1498 Watts or 1170% of its authorized power(!) the FCC requested an inspection. 

Suddenly, the power was observed at 148 W (115% high). An NOV was issued to Ruby Lopez, licensee. The EB is expecting an explanation.

6/23/23 – 73.845 – The language on your CP is important. When it specifies a certain antenna, for example, that is what you need to install, unless you modify the CP. Sumarrase, Inc, licensee of  WSGD-LP, Lehigh Acres, FL received an M&O and NALF for $5k regarding the antenna and power level of the station – for five years. It develops that instead of a one-bay antenna, a two-bay unit was installed. 

6/22/23 – Operation of a station must be at the authorized site, to prevent interference to others. Yaquina Bay Communications, owners of DKYTE(FM), Independence, OR had an STA for temporary operation at a different site, but without authoriztion, continued to operate for over three years. 

On January 6, 2023, the FCC denied a renewal application and deleted the license for KYTE. After an appeal, the Commission issued a letter affirming the deletion on June 22, 2023.

6/7/23 – 1.903 – Have you checked the frequency of your wireless microphones lately? TopGolf USA in Glendale, AZ was issued an NOV for a wireless microphone that had drifted onto the frequency used by the Phoenix metropolitan communications  systrem.  TopGolf was required to issue an explanation and prove there would be no further interference.

6/7/23 – Every station is required to do a proper station ID according to 73.1201 – image liners are not accepted, nor are IDs at :47.

Bicoastal Media Licenses IV, LLC, licensee of KELA, Centralia-Chehalis, WA received an NOV for not doing an ID properly; the City of License was not announced. The station was required to respond with a full explanation. 

6/1/23 – The FCC takes a dim view of intentional interference no matter which band it is on. Thus, an NAL went out to Philip Beaudet in Burney, CA, for playing recordings to “willfully and repeatedly” interfering with an amateur radio net on 3.908 MHz. He was identified even though he failed to use his call sign to identify himself. 

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 commercials… 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!