SF noncoms pay big for consent decree


FCCNon-commercial radio entities in San Francisco ran afoul of the rules, but have agreed to a deal with the FCC that will resolve the situation and result in a hefty but voluntary contribution to Uncle Sam.

The issue revolves around the proposed $3.75M sale of KUSF-FM by the University of San Francisco to Classical Public Radio Networks LLC. To be even more specific, it involves an LMA attached to the deal.

The form of the LMA was a Public Service Operating Agreement (PSOA), which called for payments to USF. The FCC noted them: “CPRN will pay to the Licensee: (1) $5,000 per month for the first 120 days during which the PSOA is in effect; and (2) $7,000 per month for the remainder of the first year of the PSOA term. CPRN will retain all listener contributions, underwriting revenue, and other support for the Station during the PSOA term.” Overall, USF was said to have benefitted from payments totally $38K.

The payment arrangement ran headlong into this rule: “A noncommercial educational FM broadcast station may broadcast programs produced by, or at the expense of, or furnished by persons other than the licensee, if no other consideration than the furnishing of the program and the costs incidental to its production and broadcast are received by the licensee. The payment of line charges by another station network, or someone other than the licensee on a noncommercial educational FM broadcast station, or general contributions to the operating costs of a station, shall not be considered as being prohibited by this paragraph.”

The fact that this particular rule was being broken meant that when applying to transfer the license of the station, both parties inadvertently attested that they were in compliance with FCC rules and regulations when in fact they were not.

Rather than battle it out, the FCC and the two noncoms have agreed to the consent decree. USF and CPRN acknowledge the problem with the PSOA and the applications to transfer; the FCC will grant the transfer; and the two parties will jointly make a $50K contribution to the US Treasury.

Media Bureau Chief William Lake took the unusual step of issuing a statement on the matter. He thanks USF and CPRN for their cooperation and said, “The issue of the parties’ erroneous certifications is also noteworthy. As the Commission has stated many times in the past, we depend on our licensees and applicants to provide correct and complete information. We found no intent to deceive by the parties because they submitted the PSOA to us with their application, but they have acknowledged that they violated Section 73.503(c) and therefore that their unqualified certification that the transaction complied with our rules and policies was false. Our application review process relies on applicants to fully disclose all relevant information related to the required certifications. I hope our action in this case will serve as a reminder of the need for complete accuracy in all application filings.”