What’s worse than a file fine – two of them


Dollar SignA small AM-FM combo serving the northern portion of the Johnson City-Bristol-Kingsport market discovered that the issues/programs lists were missing from its public files when getting ready to apply for license renewals.

The stations are WXLZ-AM, licensed to St. Paul VA and WXLZ-FM, licensed to Lebanon VA. Both have relatively small signals and neither has enough moxie to throw a strong signal over anything but a fraction of this market which straddles the Tennessee-Virginia border.

The station audited its own file to make sure it was in compliance with file requirements while going through the renewal process and discovered the absence of the lists, which had not been maintained for the entire duration of the previous license cycle. It immediately took steps to rectify the problem going forward.

The FCC found that to be a serious oversight, and despite licensee Yeary Broadcasting’s otherwise excellent record of compliance, it did not think it appropriate to offer a downward reduction in the punitive fine it issued.

And what it issued was the standard $10K file violation fine times two – one fine for each stations – for a total of $20K.

It did not believe the violations rose to the level requiring a hearing – it granted new licenses, but for a short term – Yeary will have to renew them in four rather than eight years.


  1. This is absurdity to the highest level. If the FCC thinks that these kinds of punitive actions is going to fix the problem, forget it. Why would anyone come clean knowing they’re going to get slammed? Typical bureauacratic approach. The next time a licensee goes through the self-inspection list and finds some infraction, do you really think they’ll rat themselve out? No! They’ll just paper over it somehow and life moves on.

    • Jim: You’re darned right I’m honest…and that’s honestly what happens. Is it right? No. Should broadcasters pay attention? Yes. Do they do it? Not always. In our little corner of the business, we see too many broadcasters that just don’t pay attention to the rules for one reason or the other. What do they do about it? Paper it over and live moves on. I will bet you a dollar to a donut that there is not one single station in the entire business that doesn’t have an infraction somewhere. Some are little, some are big, some get caught and most don’t. But if you [meaning the FCC] expect broadcasters to fully divulge their transgressions and (more importantly correct them) the FCC won’t get there by hammering the honest ones that divulge their mistakes. Give them a “fix it” ticket then follow up. If the infraction is corrected remove the fee. If the FCC truly wants to change behavior instead of just punish, they need to rethink their approach to the “self examination” process. And that’s the honest truth.

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