Fined Texas AM still on the hook with a discount


Broadcast TowerKOLJ-AM Quanah TX had a run-in with Mother Nature in the summer of 2008, and it eventually led to a run-in with the FCC. Lightning took out one of the station’s towers, and in the effort to get back on the air, the station wound up using the wrong technical specifications and for a time was on air without authorization. But a fine that was already less than the maximum has been further reduced.

John L. White is the station’s licensee. He bought in from First Broadcasting Investment in a deal that came just after the lightning – the bolt from the blue struck on 6/5/08 and White’s acquisition application was filed at the FCC 7/22/08 – at the time, its calls were KREL.

The problem came when the station returned to the air under an STA with the incorrect electrical height, dropping from 93.4 electrical degrees to 75.7. It sent in an application to operate under modified parameters, and began using them prior to the FCC’s approval.

The failure for getting approval for the right parameters was tied to failure to use the proper forms, a $3K violation. And the unauthorized operation penalty, which is generally $10K in a piracy situation, was only $4K for a $7K total.

White tried to get the entire fine cancelled on three arguments: (1) the station is one of only six consistently serving the Quanah area; (2) he was a new owner and unaware of the FCC’s facilities modification requirements; and (3) he is unable to pay the fine.

The FCC said (1) that while it is commendable that White and KOLJ are serving the interests of the local Quanah population, that is something all licensees are expected to do and is not grounds for ducking a fine; (2) that ignorance of the rules is no excuse, and that all licensees are expected to be aware of the rules and regulations governing broadcasting in the US; and (3) that an examination of tax records produced by White justified a discount of $3K.

White has now been issued a forfeiture order for $4K.

Quanah is in unrated territory near the Texas border with Oklahoma. It is well to the west of Wichita Falls and near the eastern base of the Texas panhandle.