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Arizona LPFM to Pay $20,000 for Underwriting Violations

KRIM(LP) enters a consent decree with the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau

In early July, a noncommercial educational low-power FM station agreed to enter into a consent decree with the Federal Communications Commission after it was accused of violating FCC rules by broadcasting a promotional announcement on behalf of for-profit entities.

Station KRIM(LP) in Payson, Ariz., was being investigated for allegedly violating the commission’s underwriting laws, which state that noncommercial educational stations are prohibited from airing promotional announcements on behalf of for-profit groups in exchange for compensation. While an LPFM can identify groups who provide financial support to the station, they cannot actively promote their product, service or business. 

In 2020, the commission began receiving complaints that station KRIM was violating said underwriting laws. One complainant went so far as to submit recordings of those alleged advertisements to the FCC.

The Enforcement Bureau responded by issuing a letter of inquiry to the licensee of the station, Payson Council for the Musical Arts Inc., seeking information about the alleged non-compliant programing, as well as evidence of Payson’s efforts to comply with the commission’s underwriting laws. In its response, Payson confirmed that the station had indeed broadcast for-profit announcements at various times between October 2019 and September 2021. 

To resolve the issue, Payson and the bureau agreed to enter into the consent decree that involves Payson paying a $20,000 civil penalty. Payson also agreed that it would develop and implement a compliance plan within 60 calendar days of the effective date of the agreement; this plan is designed to ensure future compliance with FCC underwriting rules. Finally, the licensee agreed to a suspended civil penalty of $41,5000 that will be levied if the station defaults on its agreement.

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