FCC issues compounded file fine


Pile of MoneyA Texas AM station was fined for a variety of infractions, including the old reliable failure to have issues/programs lists in its public file. But that was just a prelude to the fine it is getting for falsely saying the problem had been fixed.

The station is KBPO-AM Port Neches TX, in the Beaumont-Port Arthur market east of Houston. The licensee is Vision Latina Broadcasting.

VPB received a $15K fine (which was later reported reduced to $500 based on the licensee’s inability to pay). Issues/programs was a big part of it – staffers at the station told an FCC agent they weren’t even aware such a list was to be kept at all.

VLB was LMAing the station to a second party, which is no excuse to fall down on FCC compliance. It also said it hired a consultant to review the file and bring it into compliance, in essence telling the FCC the file was now fine.

Then during another inspection, the file was still lacking the lists.

The FCC said it did not matter whether or not VLB intentionally tried to deceive the Commission with its false testimony about the completeness of the file. Even a modicum of due diligence on the part of VLB would have turned up the omission.

The result: A brand new $25K fine for VLB.

This time it doesn’t have reporting conditions. It need not attest to the FCC that it is now in compliance with all rules and regs. But that is not a good thing – the FCC is going to see for itself, and has promised that the timing of its visit will come as a complete surprise.

RBR-TVBR observation: Public file violations are not uncommon – they are expensive and unfortunate and utterly preventable, but they happen. And we have to say, we cannot remember seeing the aftermath of a public file violation go this far off the rails, all the way to train wreck status.

To put this all in perspective, according to our records, VLB has attempted to sell this station twice in the last five years or so. A deal to sell the station to a Michael Augustus & Sylvester Anderson for $75K was filed with the FCC 10/25/07, and then another deal to sell it to Christian Ministries of the Valley Inc. for $63K was filed 5/22/09. The station is still licensed to VLB, so it is certain that the first deal fell through and highly likely that the second deal fell through as well.

The upshot is that in racking up FCC file fines totaling $40K, the licensee is frittering away cash that is 63% of its total value as measured by the more recent deal filing.