Kansas City Cable System Fined $25,000

WASHINGTON — A Kanas City, Mo., cable operation is being fined $25,000 for violating federal recordkeeping rules. The franchise, owned by Time Warner Cable and Advance/Newhouse, was cited by the Federal Communications Commission for “failure to maintain and make available required proof of performance test data and children’s programming records.”

“Time Warner did not deny that, on July 18, 2011, it failed to make available these required records to agents from the Enforcement Bureau’s Kansas City Office, but nonetheless urged reduction of the proposed $25,000 forfeiture,” according to the Notice of Apparent Liability.

The last kids’ TV file entry available to investigators was dated March 27, 2008, while proof of performance test data for both 2008 and 2009 was missing. Time Warner argued that the data wasn’t provided to field agents on the specified date because the responsible employees were on leave the day of the inspection. The cable operator also said that it did gather the required documents by July 21, 2011, and started a voluntary, web-based public file system soon after.

The base fine for the recordkeeping violation is $10,000. The FCC adjusted it upward to $25,000 and declined to reduce it because of TWC’s “ability to pay,” and its previous violation of the same rules.

“Time Warner further contended that merely because it ‘is able to pay a higher forfeiture than $10,000 and has previously been subject to isolated enforcement action plainly should not carry more weight than the gravity of the violation at issue, which [Time Warner] respectfully submits was relatively minor and must be balanced against TWC’s substantial, good faith compliance efforts,’” the notice stated.

No dice, the commission said.

“We disagree that the Bureau’s upward adjustments were inappropriate and impose a $25,000 forfeiture,” the commission said. “Time Warner twice has violated the rules at issue in the NAL. On this third occasion, the Bureau sought to ensure that the forfeiture amount served as an effective deterrent and not simply a cost of doing business. For these reasons, the upward adjustment was appropriate. Moreover, even though Time Warner states that it quickly corrected the violation by consolidating the missing materials after the inspection, such corrective actions are expected and do not warrant mitigation of the forfeiture. Similarly, Time Warner’s efforts to create a ‘web-based public file system’ are laudable but were also taken after the inspection and do not warrant mitigation of the forfeiture. Accordingly, we find no reason to reduce the proposed forfeiture.”