Humboldt Bummer: NBC Affiliate Gets Public File Fine


The TV station known as “The Spirit of the North Coast” may be in a less-than-cheery mood today.

That’s because the FCC has issued the NBC affiliate behind the “Redwood Curtain” a $6,000 fine for repeatedly and/or willfully failing to populate certain documents in its electronic public file in a timely manner. This station was also faulted for failing to mention this e-Boo Boo in its license renewal application.

The Commission on Wednesday (5/24) issued the Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture to Pollack/Belz Broadcasting Co., owner of KIEM-3 in Eureka-Arcata, Calif.

The station is the dominant broadcast TV station in Humboldt and Del Norte Counties of California, and boasts a longtime local news department led by PM anchor Brad Curtis and news director Manny Machado.

The trouble started for KIEM in August 2014, when it filed its license renewal application. Staff conducted an initial evaluation of the application, and it was unable to proceed. Why? KIEM was “red lighted” as the result of outstanding regulatory fees.

On Feb. 17, 2017, the red-light hold was lifted by the Commission, allowing it to move ahead with the application’s processing.

That’s when a staff review revealed that  KIEM failed to place in its “e-pif” TV issues/programs lists for all of 2013 and for April-December 2016; and commercial limit certifications for all of 2013, the third and fourth quarters of 2015, and for April-December 2016.

On April 25, 2017, KIEM’s owner amended the license renewal application, disclosing its failure to timely place in the station’s e-pif copies of its TV issues/programs lists and commercial limit certifications for the last three quarters of 2016.

Pollack/Belz asserts that its failure to timely upload copies of its public file documents in the final three quarters of 2016 was the result of a “software glitch in the station’s scanner.”

It did not provide any explanation regarding its other late filed public file documents in 2013 and 2015, the FCC notes.

In response to Pollack/Belz, the FCC said, “It is a licensee’s responsibility to confirm that all public file documents uploaded to a station’s e-pif are properly uploaded. Furthermore, we do not find the licensee’s claim that it has ‘consistently submitted all quarterly filing to the FCC and uploaded all required items to the station’s on-line public file on the FCC’s website for many years’ to be persuasive, given the facts.”