PBS Member Settles Public File Violations With Consent Decree

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In June 2022, FCC Media Bureau Video Division Chief Barbara Kreisman issued Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture to the owner of four PBS Member stations for public file rule violations. In total, the licensee was on the hook for $30,000 in financial penalties.


Now, more than 18 months later, the Commission has entered into a Consent Decree with the broadcaster that resolves the matter in full through a civil penalty.

 

 

As RBR+TVBR first reported, Fargo, N.D.-based Prairie Public received NALFs with proposed fines of $9,000 for its KCGE-16 in Crookston, Minn., and KSRE-15 in Minot, S.D.; and proposed fines of $6,000 for its KMDE-25 in Devils Lake and KBME-22 in Bismarck, S.D.

Prairie Public “apparently willfully and repeatedly violated section 73.3527(e)(8) the Commission’s rules by failing to timely file the station’s quarterly issues/programs lists and section 73.3514(a) of the rules by failing to report these violations in its application.”

On November 23, 2021, Prairie Public filed its application for KCGE. A Video Bureau staff inspection of the station’s OPIF revealed that the licensee failed to upload some copies of its issues/programs lists by the deadline.

Specifically, KCGE uploaded four lists more than one year late, three lists between one month and one year late, and three lists between one day and one month late. Prairie Public did not provide any explanation for its failure to upload these issues/programs
lists in a timely manner.

For KBME, it uploaded three lists more than one year late, four lists between one month and one year late, and three lists between one day and one month late. At KSRE, it uploaded four lists more than one year late, three lists between one month and one year late, and four lists between one day and one month late.

In the case of KMDE, it uploaded four lists more than one year late, four lists between one month and one year late, and three lists between one day and one month late. Unlike with KCGE and KBME, Prairie Public indicated on the application for license renewal that the failure to timely file one of the issues/programs lists was due to an “administrative oversight.”

How did the Video Division become aware of the public file troubles at Prairie Public? The licensee disclosed them in license renewal applications for the four noncommercial educational broadcast TV stations.

The Consent Decree terminates the Commission’s investigation. And, while fines totaling $30,000 have been erased, Prairie Public is agreeing to a payment to the U.S. Treasury in the amount of $8,150 as part of the decree. A comprehensive compliance plan to ensure no future instances that repeat this violation will occur.

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