Just-sold Class A slammed for rule violation


Pile of MoneyThe FCC isn’t saying that WJPW-CD Weirton WV didn’t have its Children’s Television Programming Reports in good order. But for 21 consecutive quarters, it apparently failed to file the reports with the Commission. The result is a hefty fine right as the station is being sold along with ten of its sister stations.

The station is part of the Bruno Goodworth Network, anchored by WBGN-CD Pittsburgh PA. The entire group, serving Pittsburgh and a wide swathe of surrounding territory, is being sold to OTA Broadcasting LLC for $7.25M.

The FCC noted that failure to file a required report typically generates a fine of $3K. Given the prolonged failure of the station to get the reports in, it bumped the fine up to $12K.

RBR-TVBR observation: In a lot of ways, BGN was probably lucky in this case. For one thing, many believe the FCC was targeting Class A stations with an eye to busting them down to LPTV status, and the Children’s rules were the primary wedge it was using. Many Class As simply did put this info in their public files; many failed to respond to FCC inquiries on the matter (not smart) and found themselves the not-so-proud owner of an LPTV rather than a Class A station as a result.

The difference in status is important in any case, and is particularly important ahead of incentive auctions. Class As will have a certain amount of protection and may participate in the auctions. LPTVs have no guarantee of protection and no right to participate in the auctions.

BGN is further lucky that this only was a reporting problem and not a public file problem as well. That would have added a base fine of $10K to WJPW’s potential punishment before any upward adjustments were added to account for the duration of the violation.

And even luckier still is the fact that this station alone of the 11-station group seems to have had this particular problem. $12K times 11 is $132K – add in 11 upwardly-adjusted public file fines and this could have been a humongous bill.

We suspect BGN will count itself as lucky and deal with this matter ASAP so there is no unnecessary holdup in its sale to OTA.