The Federal Communications Commission is holding Citadel Broadcasting’s WIBR-AM & WEMX-FM Baton Rouge, LA liable for failing to maintain its public inspection files. However, the FCC has reduced the fine to $8,000.
Citadel blew the whistle on itself, admitting to the Commission when it filed the license renewals for the stations that the required quarterly issues and programming lists were missing from the stations’ public files for several quarters. The company said the majority of the missing lists had been recreated and added to the files – and that steps had been taken to ensure future compliance.
After the FCC proposed in 2004 to fine each station $9,000, for a total of $18,000, Citadel appealed, citing cases where other broadcasters were fined less for similar violations. Also, it noted, Citadel did not become the owner of the two stations until June 26, 2001 and several of the violations occurred under the previous owner.
The appeal did not fall on deaf ears. The FCC said Citadel was still responsible for “willfully and repeatedly” violating the public files rules, but in light of the fact that only some of the violations occurred when Citadel was actually the owner of the stations, the fines were reduced to $4,000 for each station – a total of $8,000.
RBR-TVBR observation: It pays to be honest in disclosing violations. Citadel admitted to being at fault, but asked to be held liable only for its violations, not those of the previous owner. The FCC agreed and the company saves $10K.