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After Licensee Silence, FCC Confirms $17,500 Penalty

Violations include missing public inspection files and unauthorized silences

The FCC has confirmed a hefty fine after an Arkansas broadcaster failed to respond to its request for information about unauthorized, months-long station silences.

As reported by Radio World, the Media Bureau in late 2021 had proposed the forfeiture of $17,500 against Birach Broadcasting Corp. about the operation of KTUV(AM) and translator K260DT in Little Rock, Ark.

Four separate violations included unauthorized discontinued operations, missing public inspection files and out-of-date information.

The case started in January 2020 when Birach filed a renewal application for the licenses of its two stations. At the time, the FCC says, Birach certified that there had been no violations of FCC rules during the preceding licensing period, including the assertion that the stations were currently and actively broadcasting and that neither KTUV nor K260DT had been silent for any period more than 30 days.

But in March 2020 KTUV did go silent due to what it eventually called a “catastrophic failure” of its transmitter, which also put the translator off the air. At that time, the FCC says, Birach should have notified the commission that the stations were off the air beyond 10 days; when the silences extended beyond 30 days, Birach also should have requested an STA for both to remain silent.

Birach did not, the bureau said. Instead, the silences came to its attention through an informal objection to Birach’s renewal application.

After researching the situation, the bureau proposed a forfeiture of $17,5000 for the unauthorized silence, failing to maintain the online public inspection file and failure to maintain the completeness and accuracy of information in its renewal application. The bureau gave Birach 30 days to pay or file a statement seeking reduction or cancellation.

To date, the FCC says, Birach neither filed a written statement nor paid the proposed penalty. As a result, it has now ordered Birach to pay the $17,500.

The bureau has not yet weighed in on the pending approval of Birach’s renewal applications.