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Another Public File, Another Fine

Arkansas station is latest to get the lecture: Just because you tell us doesn't get you off the hook

Rulings on very old public file cases continue to emerge from the Audio Division of the Media Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission.

The commission staff has issued a fine against KUOA(AM) in Siloam Springs, Ark., of $7,200, though that is down from the original ten grand proposed.

Also of interest is that the original notice of apparent liability was issued almost five years ago, in June of 2004, and the station appealed the next month. We’ve reported recently on other similar fine appeals that took several years to be concluded.

In this case, the FCC noted, “The station’s public file was incomplete for nearly seven years, encompassing almost the whole license term, and missing 26 issues/programs lists.” But it did cut the station some slack for its good track record in the final fine amount.

This also is yet another instance where a station had been first to tell the FCC about the public file problem, checking the appropriate box “No” when it went to file for license renewal, and in which a station argued that it then took steps to avoid public file problems in the future. But the commission staff consistently has ruled, basically, that self-reporting simply is required and that future compliance simply is expected — though the staff also notes that KUOA’s self-reporting had earned a 10% earlier reduction in the fine amount.

KUOA also argued that its public file had contained some info, though it was incomplete; this is an argument that also didn’t hold water with the FCC.

Net result: A $10K fine from five years ago is reduced to $7,200 and now confirmed. And: It’s another reminder that you shouldn’t wait for license renewal time to ask yourself whether your public file is in order.