Mapleton unable to duck FCC file fine


Dollar SignMapleton License of San Luis Obispo LLC does not dispute that its public file for KXDX-FM Templeton CA was missing some required issues/programs lists. It says, however, it is not liable due to a transfer of control, and that even if it is liable, the FCC erred in assessing an excessive fine for the infraction based on precedent. Both arguments failed.

The fine the station/licensee was hit with in a Notice of Apparent Liability was the standard $10K.
Mapleton did not disputed that the lists were missing, nor did it dispute that Mapleton License of San Luis Obispo LLC for the entire time covered by the FCC NAL.

However, it argued that the control of the licensee was transferred from Mapleton Radio LLC to Mapleton Radio Holding LLC in a transaction that closed 11/4/09 – making the successor to the earlier controlling party responsible for the infractions, not the successor.

The FCC said that according to long precedent, if the licensee remains the same after a transfer of control, the licensee remains responsible for any infractions whether they took place before or after the transfer closed.

It also noted that Mapleton’s claim that in effect, the license period began on the day the transfer closed is also incorrect, stating that the license remains effective as of 11/29/05 when the FCC granted it.

Mapleton also argued that other similar fines for missing issues/program lists resulted in fines of $4K, not $10K. The FCC countered that sometimes, the fine is higher than $10K and that each case is treated individually based on a unique set of circumstances.

The FCC added that the station has been run with an incomplete file both before and after the transfer of control, meaning that the current management cannot bring its case to the FCC with completely clean hands. It added a reporting requirement to what is now a Forfeiture Order for $10K under which Mapleton must certify that the file is now in compliance with the regulations.

RBR-TVBR observation: It occurs to us that a careful examination of a station’s public file should be part of every due diligence procedure when contemplating an acquisition. We think we’d like to know about any inadequacies before an FCC agent shows up with an inspection checklist.