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Birach Broadcasting’s $17,000 Fine Stands

Enforcement Bureau says fixing tower fence is AM’s responsibility

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau says its previous $17,000 fine against Birach Broadcasting Corp. was justified and the penalty has now progressed to a Forfeiture Order.

Birach is the licensee for WCXI(AM), Fenton, Mich., The original penalty was levied in 2012 after an inspector noticed part of the fence for a two-tower array had separated, creating a gap allowing access to the towers. There was no perimeter fence around the property, either, according to the commission.

In addition, part of the fine was levied because the station was missing all quarterly issue/program lists from its public inspection file.

Birach had argued the fine should be cancelled or reduced, telling the bureau it doesn’t own the towers, and so fence upkeep isn’t its “responsibility,” but the broadcaster fixed the fence anyway after it was fined. The documents were missing from the public inspection file because of “confusion” according to Birach, which assures the agency the documents were actually in the station during the inspection and later placed in the right file.

The Enforcement Bureau didn’t find any of the licensee’s arguments persuasive, noting in its decision the fence gap is a “serious public safety issue.” The bureau notes the fence requirements apply to AM licensees, not tower owners, and it’s Birach’s responsibility to comply. The licensee also presented no evidence that Birach tried to include the missing lists in the WCXI public file before the inspector noticed they were missing, according to the agency.

Birach has 30 days to pay or the case may be turned over to the Justice Department.