Translator To Pay Big Bill For Bigger-Than-Allowed Power


At 99.1 MHz in the Lancaster-Palmdale, Calif., area north of Los Angeles is a 10-watt translator carrying the programming of noncommercial Spanish Religious KODV-FM 89.1 in Barstow, Calif.

This signal is designed to give licensee Ondas de Vida Inc. just enough output to cover these High Desert cities. But, that wasn’t the case, and now it’s received a Forfeiture Order from the FCC. 

Could iHeartRadio be involved?

According to the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, FM Translator Station K256BS in Palmdale operated at power levels that exceeded the values specified in the station’s license and permitted under the Commission’s rules.

This was determined by Los Angeles-based Enforcement Bureau agents more than two years ago.

On April 11, 2016, the Los Angeles Office issued a Notice of Violation advising Ondas de Vida of the unlawful power output for the translator.

On April 29, 2016, OdV submitted a response to the NOV, stating that it had temporarily used a higher-power transmitter while its transmitter was out for repairs and further stating that “[w]e received the repaired transmitter in March and thanks to the help of the FCC inspector we are operating in full compliance with the FCC license.”

As stated in the NAL, on May 10, 2016, the agent returned to the Station to verify the Station’s compliance with its licensed operating parameters. Unfortunately, upon inspection, the agent determined that the translator’s transmitter continued to operate at a transmitter power output (TPO) of 7.5 watts, which, based on the agent’s calculations, yielded an ERP of 33.7 watts.

While that may not seem like a big error, it is 23.7 watts more than it is licensed for. As such, this could have still impeded the signal of iHeartMedia’s Class B KGGI-FM 99.1 in Riverside, which can be heard just to the east of Lancaster and Palmdale and is licensed to cover such cities as Victorville, Hesperia and Apple Valley.

The bigger issue may be the lack of remedial efforts by Ondas de Vida. On February 21 and 22, 2017, a follow-up visit found the licensee to still be out of compliance on the output of the translator.

Ondas de Vida in May 25, 2017, through counsel, filed a “Petition for Reconsideration” of the NAL, in which it argued that the proposed forfeiture should be reduced or cancelled.

Why? It argued that the Bureau should have provided notice of its May 10, 2016, measurements before issuing it the NAL; the translator station was entitled to operate at a higher TPO than specified on its license to achieve its authorized ERP; and that the licensee is a thinly-funded, non-profit entity.

No dice. The $12,000 NAL was affirmed. As such, it has 30 days to pay up.