FCC upholds tower fine in disputed ownership case
Ely Radio admits it uses a certain tower for its KWNA-AM Winnemucca, and admits it bought the station from Sheen Broadcasting in 2006 – but it said the station’s tower was not included in the deal and it’s not responsible for lighting outages.
Fred Weinberg’s Ely Radio acquired KWNA AM-FM from Sheen for $500K based on a contract dated 8/28/06.
According to the contract, among the assets acquired were all “license, permits and other authorizations … necessary for lawful operation of the Station as presently operated by the seller.”
The FCC interpreted that to include the authorization for the tower.
RBR-TVBR looked at the contract, and while the tower was not specifically mentioned as an acquired asset in the contract, neither was it specifically mentioned among the excluded assets.
At any rate, according to the FCC, Sheen assumed the contract was part of the sale, even if Ely Radio did not.
The fine issued was for failing to have red obstruction lighting during darkness and for failing to register the change in tower ownership with the FCC.
The FCC said that Ely could be held liable for the lighting outage regardless of ownership since it was the sole user and added “…that it was Ely’s personnel (by their own admission) that improperly extinguished the antenna lights that resulted in the violation of the Act and Rules.”
The FCC went on to acknowledge that there may be some question between Ely and Sheen as to which company actually is supposed to be the owner of the tower, and said that is something to be worked out in the State of Nevada. That said, the preponderance of evidence suggests that Ely was and is the licensee of the tower.
The $13K fine that was issued for the infractions had been reduced to $11K due to a good overall record of compliance, and the FCC says the $11K fine is sticking.