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California LPFM Agrees to Consent Decree for Unauthorized Silence

Emperor’s Circle also agreed to a civil penalty payment of $500

The Media Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission adopted a consent decree with a California low-power FM station over rules surrounding the station’s decision to go silent without permission.

The consent decree resolves issues regarding the bureau’s investigation of the Emperor’s Circle of Shen Yun, licensee of station KQSG(LP) in El Monte, Calif. The station failed to notify and request commission authorization for any period of silence exceeding 30 days.

The consent decree also resolves the bureau’s investigation into the Emperor’s Circle — regarding inaccurate certifications in its renewal application as well as several informal objections filed against it.

In an objection filed by Nora Hamamciyan, she alleged that Emperor’s Circle is shadow controlled by the organization New Tang Dynasty Television Network. Hamamciyan also alleged that the station broadcasts commercial advertisements, does not provide local programming and is operating as a translator for KQEV(LP) in Walnut, Calif.

In its defense, Emperor’s Circle contends that it is not shadow controlled by New Tang Dynasty, it does not operate as a translator for KQEV, the commercials referenced in the objection were aired on behalf of nonprofit entities and that the station airs local programming.

However, Emperor’s Circle did admit that the station had 61 consecutive days of silence, first between Oct. 26, 2017, and Aug. 20, 2021, (later amended to May 26, 2021, to July 26, 2021) — and sporadically for 21 days between Aug. 21, 2021 through May 8, 2022.

Emperor’s Circle also filed an application for its license renewal. In evaluating that application, the commission has to see if the station served the public interest, if there have been any violations of the Communications Act or FCC Rules and if there are any other violations that constitute a pattern of abuse.

While the bureau found that the licensee provided incorrect information to the commission, it said the false information was not provided intentionally. As a result, the commission will not deny the application on that basis. The bureau also rejected Hamamciyan’s claim that the station is controlled by New Tang Dynasty since the objector submitted no evidence or declaration of information that New Tang Dynasty exercised control over the station. And the bureau also rejected Hamamciyan’s claim that the station operates as a translator station for KQEV due to a lack of evidence.

As a result, the bureau and licensee negotiated a consent decree in which Emperor’s Circle admits it violated FCC Rules.

The bureau also agreed to approve the station’s renewal application since it found nothing in the record that creates a material question of fact calling for further inquiry. As a result, the consent decree was adopted and the application was approved. The Emperor’s Circle also agreed to carry out a compliance plan and make a civil penalty payment of $500.

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