'Class A' TV Station is Fined for Lack of IDs

Low power stations were able to obtain "Class A" status in late 1999 by meeting certain requirements, including offering at least 3 hours per week of locally produced programming and compliance with FCC Part 73 rules. Part 73 rules, which apply to full power TV stations, are in many cases more restrictive than the Part 74 rules under which LPTV and TV translator stations operate. For example, LPTV and translators are allowed to identify their stations using automatic Morse code identifiers that frequency shift key the transmitter's carrier or amplitude modulate the transmitter's aural carrier. Part 73 rules require identification to be transmitted hourly on the main program video/audio.

The FCC is enforcing this rule.

KSVX-LP received a "Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture" for $5,000 for 22 apparent violations of Section 73.1201 of the FCC rules relating to station identification. The FCC received a complaint that KSVX-LP was not providing proper station identification. It included four videotapes "purportedly depicting Station KSVX-LP programming on various dates between Jan. 25 and April 1, 2004."

After reviewing the tapes, the FCC determined that while they contained 24 hours of programming, there were only two station identification announcements included.

In its response to the FCC's letter of inquiry, the station said that it uses equipment to automatically insert an ID every half hour, but that "due to unforeseen technical difficulties, most often as a result of a thunderstorm or power surge, the automated equipment that inserts the station identification has failed to insert the announcement." The licensee said that these occur infrequently and station personnel fix them as soon as they are detected.

The FCC did not accept this as an excuse for lack of identification. The NAL notes that KSVX-LP installed a battery backup system shortly before filing its response to the letter of inquiry (LOI).

"We will accept E-DA-HOE's [the licensee of KSVX-LP] sworn representations in this regard," the commission said. "However, we find that the licensee's explanation does not eliminate E-DA-HOE's responsibility for its malfunctioning equipment. E-DA-HOE admits that its equipment had failed in the past and that it knew the reason for those failures, yet the licensee took no remedial action until shortly before it responded to our LOI."

Therefore, the FCC said that the licensee apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Section 73.1201 of FCC rules. The NAL amount of $5,000 was significantly less than the maximum allowed. The FCC said this was appropriate, as the station knew that its station identification equipment was subject to breakdown due to storms and electrical surges, yet did not install backup power until after an investigation was launched. Further, the FCC said that it found that the station's disregard for identification responsibilities was "egregious and merits a forfeiture sufficient to deter it and other licensees from similar misconduct."

The FCC said that the nature of the violation might have justified a higher fine, but declined to assess a greater amount as the station had an overall history of compliance with commission rules.