FCC TODAY: It’s A Fine Day For Radio
The Federal Communications Commission on Friday released a trio of notices that, if enforced, will see the U.S. government pocket a few more thousand dollars.
A big-time pirate radio broadcaster in South Florida and an AM in Canton, Ohio are each on the hook for thousands of dollars.
LICENSE LAPSE LEAVES AM IN LURCH
In the Buckeye State, WINW-AM 1520 in Canton was slapped with a forfeiture notice in the amount of $13,000 for failing to file a timely license renewal application and for engaging in unauthorized operation of the station.
An application for renewal should have been filed by June 1, 2004. No such application was properly filed, and WINW’s license expired on October 1, 2004.
Later, in early 2011, an inquiry to the FCC indicated WINW was off the air. The licensee, Pinebrook Corp., responded in a letter to the Commission saying “it [did] not know why anyone would suggest . . . that the station was silent prior to that time.”
Unfortunately, WINW was silent on Feb. 23, 2011, due to theft of the station’s copper feed lines and damage to the station transmitter.
On May 6, 2011, the licensee filed a request for Special Temporary Authority to resume station operations, noting that it was unaware that its application for license renewal had been dismissed. It also stated that the repair to its transmitter was “virtually complete,” and it sought STA to recommence service to the public, indicating that it would file a license renewal application for the Station “once it can.”
It has since been operating under an STA with reduced facilities, as the damage to the WINW transmitter was far greater than initially believed.
At issue is the fact that WINW’s unauthorized operation spanned a total of more than six years after the 2004 application was dismissed and again between August 24, 2012 and March 26, 2013, when Pinebrook apparently continued operating the station pursuant to an expired STA. These violations were egregious enough to warrant the $13,000 proposed fine.
BROWARD BUCCANEER PLANKED WITH PENALTY
We now know who the persistent pirate broadcaster airing unauthorized Haitian kreyol broadcasts at two signals in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., area.
Charles Philome is the apparent operator of unlicensed broadcasts at both 88.7 MHz and 90.1 MHz in the Broward County cities of Margate and Pompano Beach.
His proposed fine: $20,000.
The forfeiture notice comes after Philome deliberately disregarded previous warnings, thus the “significant penalty” handed to him.
Philome admitted that he had been involved with other unlicensed radio stations in the past, when visited by an agent from the FCC’s Miami field office.
After that encounter, it turns out Philome became involved with yet another unlicensed station — this time at 90.1 MHz, a prolific and longtime home for unlicensed kreyol programming.
“As the record shows, on five days, agents determined that an unlicensed radio station was operating on two different frequencies from three different locations controlled by Mr. Philome or by businesses operated by Mr. Philome. No license had been issued for any station on these frequencies at or near any of these locations,” the FCC said.
IN OTHER FCC MATTERS ON FRIDAY:.
- Tony and Robyn Howell received a $1,500 fine for failing to file a timely license renewal application for KHQN-AM in Spanish Fork, Utah. An application for renewal of the Station’s license should have been filed by June 1, 2013. No such application was filed until September 11, 2013. No explanation was offered for the tardy renewal application.
- On March 24, 2008, Common Cause, the Benton Foundation, Consumer Action, Massachusetts Consumers’ Coalition, NYC Wireless, James J. Elekes, and National Hispanic Media Coalition filed a petition for reconsideration of certain aspects of the 2006 Quadrennial Review Order. The petition was dismissed as there are no longer any active issues for the Commission to consider. The petitioners argued that the FCC should modify the 2006 Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership rule and tighten the Commission’s local television and local radio ownership rules. The challenges of these media ownership rules were either addressed or rendered moot by the Prometheus II decision, in which the court vacated the 2006 NBCO Rule and upheld the local television and local radio ownership rules and the recently adopted Second Report and Order concluding the 2010 and 2014 quadrennial review proceedings.