WTRI-AM fined $5,000 for unauthorized shut-down


FCCWTRI Holding, Inc. was issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture in the amount of $5,000 for unauthorized discontinuation of operations of Station WTRI-AM 1520, Brunswick, MD (suburban DC).

Said Peter Doyle, Chief, Audio Division, Media Bureau: “The Media Bureau has before the application of WTRI Holding, LLC, for renewal of its license for Station WTRI(AM), Brunswick, Maryland and the Petition to Deny the Application filed by John J. Mullaney of Mullaney Engineering, Inc. In this Memorandum Opinion and Order and Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture we find that Licensee apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Section 73.1740 of the Rules3 by discontinuing operation of the Station without timely requesting special temporary authority. Based upon our review of the record before us, we conclude that

Licensee is apparently liable for a monetary forfeiture in the amount of five thousand dollars ($5,000) and deny the Petition.”

“WTRI indicated explained that the Station was silent from January 28, 2005, to March 22, 2005; and again from February 11, 2009, to March 25, 2009.

According to Commission records, Licensee filed a request for STA to remain silent on March 16, 2009, indicating that it had gone silent February 11, 2009, and notified the Commission on April 20, 2009, that it had resumed operations on April 15, 2009. On March 6, 2012, Licensee notified the Commission that it had been silent since July 15, 2011, and on July 9, 2012, notified the Commission that it had resumed operations on June 30, 2012.

In its Petition, Mullaney alleges that the Application should be denied because the Station has had extended periods of unauthorized silence. Specifically, Mullaney alleges that he visited the WTRI site on August 28, 2011, to view the public file, but the Station was not operating, its offices were closed and the area around the station was not maintained. Based upon these observations, Mullaney further opines that the Station is not operating within its licensed parameters. Mullaney further alleges that since May 5, 2011, he monitored the Station “on at least separate days” but no operation was ever detected.11 He also states that observations were made on July 15, August 1, August 15, and September 1, 2011, but no transmission was detected from the Station.

Mullaney also believes that the required renewal announcements were not made on those dates. Mullaney also notes that the Application discloses unauthorized periods of silence in 2005 and 2009. Accordingly, Mullaney requests that we deny the Application.

In its Opposition, Licensee states that although the Station was on the air at the time the Application was filed, it was forced to go silent shortly thereafter due to financial hardship. Licensee states that it filed a notification on November 7, 2011, and that while it does “not dispute all assertions made by Mullaney with regard to the on-air status, we feel that there are inaccuracies and misrepresentations.”

Additionally, we find that the Station’s periods of silence do not warrant a short-term renewal. Licensee acquired the Station’s license on January 28, 2005, and Station’s license term ended on October 1, 2011. The Station was only silent for a total of 6 months during the 80 month period in which Licensee held the Station’s license. We will renew the Station’s license for the full term ending on October 1, 2019.”

RBR-TVBR observation: The last we heard, the station was Asian-brokered, Oldies and before that Country. The station has pretty much been off the air for quite a while. Now, Progressive Talk WPWC-AM 1480 Dumfries, VA to the south of DC, has been off the air as well for many weeks. It airs a weak carrier signal.

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Carl has been with RBR-TVBR since 1997 and is currently Managing Director/Senior Editor. Residing in Northern Virginia, he covers the business of broadcasting, advertising, programming, new media and engineering. He’s also done a great deal of interviews for the company and handles our ever-growing stable of bylined columnists.