FCC throws the book at consent decree violator


A radio licensee operating in Puerto Rico was facing fines for a pair of FCC violations, but was able to strike a consent decree that included a voluntary contribution to the US Treasury and reporting requirements. However, it did neither, so it will have to dig even deeper into its pockets to settle with the Commission than when the whole episode began.

The licensee is A Radio Company Inc., and the station is WEGA-AM Vega Baha PR.

The station had been subject to a proceeding for lack of effective fencing around the station’s tower and public file violations. The total fine it was facing for the two infractions was $15K.

The FCC and A Radio Company were able to agree on a consent decree. In a disputed proceeding, it speeds things up and saves both the FCC and the licensee time and expense. The licensee admits no wrong-doing, and promises never to do it again. It almost always is required to provide reports periodically demonstrating its compliance with the rules, and it generally makes voluntary contribution to the US Treasury to help defray the national debt.

In this case, A Radio Company made out very well – under terms of the Decree, it’s contribution would be $8K, a savings of $7K when compared to the monetary punishment it was facing.

But, there were problems. Apparently its check to make the $8K payment bounced, and as of 5/10/10, no payment had been made. And to top it off, A Radio Company did not file a compliance report with the FCC either.

The FCC was not pleased. It reiterated its policy, stating that “a consent decree violation, like misrepresentation, is particularly serious. The whole premise of a consent decree is that enforcement action is unnecessary due, in substantial part, to a promise by the subject of the consent decree to take the enumerated steps to ensure future compliance. Where, as here, it appears that a regulated entity violated a consent decree, we believe a substantial proposed forfeiture is warranted.”

So now A Radio Company is facing a $25K fine.