FCC Fines Class A TV Stations

WASHINGTON: The FCC issued several fines to Class A TV stations last week, according to broadcast legal specialist David Oxenford. The fines were issued for violations of some basic rules, which the stations “seem to have forgotten,” Oxenford writes at Davis Wright Tremaine LLC’s Broadcast Law Blog.

KHLU-LP in Honolulu was fined $1,000 for failing to provide access to its studios for an FCC inspection. The studio was co-located with the transmitter facility, both locked behind a chain-link fence. The FCC field agents were unable to reach anyone at KHLU by phone, and their messages were left unanswered.

Class A stations are required to have personnel at a main studio in their service area during normal business hours, and to have public files available there. KHLU’s owners, HTV/Hawaiian Television, were subsequently fined $24,000, which got their attention. They pleaded hardship and got the fine reduced to $1,000.

Oxenford said two other fines involved the rules regarding kid’s TV. Four Texas stations belonging to Sage Broadcasting Corp., were each fined $20,000 for failing to file Children’s Television Reports with the FCC and for not publicizing the location of its related files for public inspection. Those fines were dropped because the stations also demonstrated financial hardship.

A similar violation will cost KQUX-CA of Austin, Texas, $9,600, reduced from the initial fine of $12,000.

Oxenford said Class A TV stations operate under federal protection from being knocked off the air by full-power stations.

“Class A stations were given this protection if they could show that they were providing local programming, had a local studio, and otherwise complied with all the operating requirements that a full-power station has to meet...,” he said. “Cases released last week remind these stations that they must still meet all requirements for full power stations.”