Dismay over LMA


James J. Chladek’s WXMC-AM in Parsippany-Troy Hill NJ (part of the Morristown NJ market) has just been hit with a $4K fine on grounds of a public file violation, issues/programs division. It seems Chladek himself noted the lack of this information back at renewal time on 5/26/06 and assured that the matter would be corrected, but when FCC agents inspected the station on 3/17/09 it found not a single list in the file.

The agent conducted his inspection accompanied by an alternate engineer and a manager from a company LMAing the station. The “chief operator” had to be reached by phone. And of course the public file was devoid of any issues/program lists.

Chladek admitted the violation, but asked that the fine be rescinded since the management on the ground at the station’s studio did not know about the issues/program rule, and because the station provides “unique public service programming.” (The LMAing entity programs an Hispanic religious format.) He added that the problem has since been corrected.

The FCC refused to overturn the fine since it was Chladek’s ultimate responsibility to make sure the rules were being followed at the station, and because the responsibility holds regardless of the value of the programming.

RBR/TVBR observation: If you are the licensee of a station, you are responsible for all dealings with the FCC, and you are not off the hook for any FCC rule or regulation. Period. If you give any such authority over to a tenant, you are flirting dangerously with an unauthorized transfer of control.