FCC dishes out more trouble for noncompliant Class As


LPTVThree more Class A television stations have been fingered for FCC punitive action. One – perhaps the lucky one – has been hit with a Notice of Apparent Liability for $13K. The other two must show cause why they should not be degraded to LPTV status – a risky status to cling to in advance of the planned incentive auctions of television spectrum.

Indiana Wesleyan University’s WIWU-CD Marion IN is the station getting hit with the fine. It was missing two years worth of children’s program information in its public folder. The error was defended as inadvertent (and computer-related) and the station was even able to correct it, but it was not enough to prevent being hit with a $3K fine for failure to provide a required form and $10K for a public file violation.

WHDO-CA Orlando FL, licensed to Digital TV of Orlando LLC, was one of those hit with a show cause order. It falls into the failure to remain on the air category of challenged Class A licensees. It went off air in September 2010 with a valid STA, saying it needed to relocate and upgrade the station’s facilities. However, it never filed for a modification, went on air briefly in September 2011 to avoid being automatically deleted on the 12-consecutive-months-of-silence rule, and then promptly applied for another STA to go silent on the same grounds as it did in 2010. The FCC said that being off air for all but one week of the preceding 18 months was unacceptable and issued the show cause order to maintain its Class A status.

The other is WZGS-CA Raleigh NC, licensed to ZGS Raleigh Inc. The station went silent 4/1/10, saying it lost a network affiliation and shut down while considering options for the future. Since then, it has resumed broadcast briefly in March 2011 and February 2012 to maintain the license. The FCC tallied about two weeks of on-air time over the course of almost two years, and again found it insufficient. The result: a show cause order to avoid degradation to LPTV status.

RBR-TVBR observation: Whether a station retains or loses Class A status may not matter so much in a small market, but the two stations asked to show cause this time are in decently-sized DMAs, where the spectrum they occupy could have some serious value, depending on how the incentive auctions go.