Fine appeal: If at first you don’t succeed


Thumbs DownFail, fail again. Mt. Rushmore Broadcast was unable to get fines against some of its radio stations overturned, failed to get satisfaction from a petition for reconsideration, and now has struck out with an application for review.

The FCC did not recap the offenses in its latest report on the case, but did not that the violations themselves were undisputed, and then, in three parts, went on to detail why Mount Rushmore’s appeals have been turned down.

The company tried to litigate the definitions, arguing that the violations were not intentional, nor were they necessarily repeated. In particular, MRB noted that a public file violation resulted in just one instance of a station not being able to produce it for inspection.

The FCC said that the files did not exist for a period of nine consecutive quarters, which more than qualified them as repeated. With that settled, the FCC noted it did not even need address the issue of intent, but noted regardless that a violation may be called willful because the licensee did not take the necessary actions to comply with the regulation in question, and in this particular case, when an FCC agent asked for the file, MRB knew that it was incomplete and admitted the fact at the time.

Secondly, MRB said the FCC did not take into account the fact that it not only brought the stations into compliance, but also fired the employee deemed responsible for the violations.

The FCC issued its standard response: Fixing the violations is an expectation, not an act deserving a reward. It is not grounds for reducing a punishment.

Finally, MRB said the FCC did not take into account the financial illness of the stations, which had gone silent. The FCC countered that it did consider the matter, but explained that MRB failed to document the stations’s financial health so it had nothing upon which to base a ruling.

MRB tried again, but said it could not break out the finances for the stations individually because it simply does not keep its books that way. The FCC said it would certainly consider the financial health of the corporation as a whole, but it still had nothing to work with.

So in the end, MRB’s latest attempt to get out of a total of $17.5K in fines was denied.