File under failure for three fined stations


A station in the Dallas TX area was found to have an utterly inadequate public file, and an AM-FM combo in the Cedar Rapids-Waterloo IA area was guilty of the same infraction along with an impressive laundry list of additional violations. Both have been hit with $10K fines, and in the case of the Iowa combo, the FCC made it clear that only the licensee’s poverty allowed it to get off so easy.

We’ll look at the lighter of the violations – that of KPIR-AM Granbury TX, a Class D station on 1220 kHz that serves an area just to the southwest of Dallas. It’s public file was missing so much material that the FCC did something it rarely does – it referred to what was actually in it – it said an agent found only  “a folder of advertisements and marketing material.”Issues/program lists, contour maps, ownership reports, and other items were absent, and the FCC said there was no evidence that the material had ever been present.

The station, licensed to The L.R. Radio Group Inc., has been hit with a notice of apparent liability for the standard $10K.

The other stations are KQMG AM & FM Independence IA, serving an area north of Cedar Rapids and east of Waterloo.

Neither station had a complete public file available for inspection. In addition, operationable EAS equipment was lacking and obstruction tower lighting was substandard – in fact, only one light was working, and once management found out about the problem at least as of 11/1/10, they neither fixed it as of 1/29/11 nor alerted the FAA as of 1/31/11. And finally, the FM was broadcasting above its authorized 2.9 kW power level – the signal was running at 108% and was unmonitored.

The combination of all these violations ran up a penalty tab of $42K: $8K for the EAS violation, $10K for the tower light failure, $4K for the power overage and $10K times two for public file violations at each station.
However, the FCC took the combo’s gross revenues into account and assessed it a notice of apparent liability for only $10K.

Wharton also noted that many broadcast groups take deliberate steps to increase campaign coverage, including the provision of free airtime to candidates. E.W. Scripps just announced such a plan, following in the footsteps of Post-Newsweek and Hearst Television. Wharton said he expects many more groups to hop on the bandwagon going forward.

RBR-TVBR observation: $10K is a lot of money to spend in exchange for the convenience of not putting the proper papers in a file every now and again. It is amazing that the FCC collects as much as a penny a year for failure to observe such a simple rule.

We write about these violations all the time, hoping that at the very least our readers are constantly aware of this very necessary task.

Think of all the things you could do with $10K. To give it to the FCC for a simple oversight is not an intelligent way to allocate valuable resources.