Station Fined $10,000 for Public File Violations
WASHINGTON: An Illinois broadcaster
has been fined $10,000 for public file violations. The infraction was
discovered when the station applied for license renewal, essentially turning
itself in by reporting a past violation--as it is required to do--then
asking for leniency that was denied.
The Audio Division at the FCC Media Bureau finalized the forfeiture order
against WPW Broadcasting, owner of WLBK-AM in DeKalb, Ill., despite appeals
from the station to reduce or overturn the original notice of apparent
The fine came about when the station applied for license renewal in 2007. When
asked on Form 303-S to verify that the required documentation had been placed
in the public inspection file at appropriate times, the station checked “No,”
and explained that issues/programs lists from 2000 to early 2004 had not been
filed as required. It said it later created those lists, placed them in the
file and took steps to make sure the rules were followed in the future.
The FCC proposed a $10,000 fine, saying the station was responsible for 15
issues/programs lists missing during the license period. The station asked for
reduction, arguing among other things that the penalty was inconsistent with
similar others; that it had disclosed the violation voluntarily; and that it
had since taken corrective measures. WLBK may have been hoping for a reduction
to $3,000, as it cited several such “comparable” cases in the past that
resulted in fines of that amount.
But the commission now has said those cases were not comparable or consistent
with precedent; and anyway it may set its fines case by case. Some of the
earlier cases, it said, had been assessed improperly; and others only involved
The FCC staff reiterated that stations should disclose violations voluntarily
and take corrective action promptly; but it again explained that revealing a
past problem only when required to do so at license renewal is not cause for
reduction of a fine.
And, as it has in the past, it said that corrective action to comply in the
future is expected of all licensees; it doesn’t mitigate a violation. – from