A Class A television station in Georgia is being hit with a hefty FCC fine for public file deficiencies, and as has been the case of late, it may be the lucky one out of those that were named in recent FCC releases. Two other licensees are being ordered to show cause why they should be able to retain their Class A status for a total of three stations. Otherwise, they will be knocked down to the standard and less-protected LPTV class.
The fined station is WPHJ-CD of Vidalia GA, licensed to Southern Media Associates Inc. It fell victim to a lack of public file information on its children’s programming. In its defense, it said a faulty computer program prevented the reports from being automatically filed, and other omissions took place prior to its ownership of the station (they dated back to 2006, while SMA acquired the station in the summer of 2009). However, the forms it did have were insufficient. The result – two fines, a $3K hit for failure to file a required form and the standard $10K public file violation fine, for a $13K total.
Not so lucky is well-known group owner Entravision, which is being hit with a show cause order for KVTF-CA Brownsville TX. In this unique case, Entravision stated that it was taking the station silent due to interference with co-channel and co-owned KSFE-LP McAllen TX (which is also in the same DMA). This began 6/22/10. It was working to find a technical solution that complied with FCC regulations, and also stated that as owner of both stations it was willing accept a waiver of the rules and live with the interference. It went back on air briefly to protect the license from automatic deletion, then went back off 6/15/11. The FCC said that the licensee had not been moving to deal with the situation and now it faces the show cause to avoid demoting KVTF to LPTV since it isn’t meeting its 18-hour-per-day broadcast obligation.
Rodney S. Johnson is the other licensee, with stations K42BR and K48BL or Terrebone-Bend OR. The stations were missing children’s programming information in their public files. On 3/25/11 and 2/10/12, the FCC sent queries on the situation, and on neither occasion did it get a response. That is the reason for the show cause order.
RBR-TVBR observation: It is impossible not to link the fact that the FCC is seeking to clear spectrum in the television band, and at the same time is challenging incumbent Class A stations in such a way as to ease the spectrum-clearing chore. As we have noted, all Class As out there would do well to keep their regulatory house in order.