Licensee tries to wriggle out of fine


Urban Radio III’s KVTO-AM, serving the San Francisco market from Berkeley CA, was hit with a public file fine, dating back to a 2005 license renewal application and missing documents which date back even further. Urban had some novel arguments to try to duck the fine. The fine was the full-bore $10K. At issue were missing issues/programs lists for a period from 1998-2000. Unfortunately, the FCC wasn’t buying Urban’s arguments for a reduction, and the full amount stands.

Urban argued that the fine should be reduced for a number of reasons.

Two of Urban’s arguments were standard, pleas that we see all the time: It noted that it turned itself in, and that it should get a reduction based on its overall record of compliance.

The novel arguments included the plea that it was a harmless mistake since nobody asked to see the issues/program lists during the period they were missing, and that a reduction was warranted because it is a minority-owned licensee.

The candor argument never gets anywhere. As usual, the FCC said it expects licenses to be truthful in their dealings with the Commission and it does not reward such honesty.

The overall record of compliance was shot down because Urban is a subsidiary of Inner City Broadcasting and Inner City has some violations on its ledger.

Neither did the harmless mistake argument get any traction. The FCC said the missing material is important for both the public and the Commission to determine how well the licensee is serving the local community, and compiling the lists is supposed to encourage airing of the type of programming that would be listed in the file.

Finally, the FCC said there is no precedent for treating minority owners any differently than any other owner in such a matter, nor did Urban provide any evidence.