FCC sticks former owner with fines


A pair of New Orleans AM stations had some public file omissions that came to light at license renewal time back in 2004. Although both have since been transferred to new owners, the FCC is insisting that the former owner pay up. The stations are WGSO-AM New Orleans LA and WFNO-AM Norco LA, both of which were owned by subsidiaries of MC Media. Both were missing issues/program lists from September 2000 through January 2003, among other things. WGSO did not have its contour map on file.

Both were hit with $9K fines for a total of $18K. MC asked for a 25% reduction because other licensees have been fined less for similar or more serious infractions and because it revealed the omissions on its own, along with its general record of compliance. The FCC always contends that licensees are not necessarily rewarded for candor – that’s expected; and the fact that two of MC’s stations were guilty of the same basic infraction undermined its general record of compliance claim. It also said the forfeiture amount is in line with FCC guidelines. The fines stand.

RBR/TVBR observation: From time to time stakeholders bring up the idea of eliminating the public file on grounds that it is generally neglected by the public; its maintenance is therefore a nuisance and an unnecessary expense. However, the fact that the FCC is now considering the addition of heavy brand new (or revived) local reporting requirements make this an extremely unwise time to be caught short fulfilling the existing requirements.