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Iowa AM Station Faces FCC Fine

Case involves online public files and operating under licensed power

An AM station owner in Iowa may have to pay an $11,000 fine in a case involving its online public inspection file and the power levels at which it is broadcasting.

Issues arose when Gendreau Broadcast LLC applied in 2020 for license renewal for KCLN(AM) in Clinton, Iowa. It had acquired that station a couple of years earlier.

An informal objection to renewal was filed by Dave Vickers, alleging among other things that Gendreau had neglected to upload information to its online public inspection file and that it had not included links to the file and its most recent Equal Employment Opportunity Program Report on its website. Vickers also said the station had failed to reduce power at night for extended period.

According to the FCC summary of the case, Gendreau acknowledged that it had failed to upload information to the political file section of its online file. It said it was dealing with “a number of technical issues” and provided documentation regarding repairs. It also said KCLN was currently operating “at between 50 and 70 watts 24 hours a day, while we await repairs” and that the station had either been silent or “well under” full power since late last year.

The FCC now has issued a notice of apparent liability for forfeiture.

It says Gendreau did fail to upload issues/programs lists for numerous quarters since 2018 and neglected several other steps including uploading correspondence about its license renewal as well as information related to an FCC EEO audit of the public file.

The commission also said the licensee did make an inaccurate certification about its online file in its renewal application but didn’t think the licensee had an intent to deceive.

Further, the FCC said the station did operate out of its licensed parameters. KCLN is licensed to operate at 1 kilowatt daytime and 91 watts night, but as noted above it began operating at 50 to 70 watts last November and may still be doing so. The rules require AM stations to maintain antenna input power “as near as practicable to the authorized antenna input power” and “not be less than 90 percent nor greater than 105 percent of the authorized power.” The FCC said Gendreau should have requested special temporary authority to operate at a variance.

But the commission rejected other aspects of Vickers’ objection. It said Gendreau was exempt from the EEO requirement in question because it has fewer than five full-time employees. And it said Vickers provided no evidence that station had failed to reduce power at night for years.

The FCC has proposed a total forfeiture of $11,000. Gendreau has 30 days to pay or file a statement in response. The commission did not find anything in the case to warrant an evidentiary hearing about the license renewal itself.

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