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Citadel Wins Fine Reduction in Public File Case

But FCC staff rejects argument that it has been inconsistent

Six years after Citadel Broadcasting Co. appealed an $18,000 penalty for public file violations at two Louisiana stations, the Audio Division of the FCC Media Bureau has confirmed a fine but reduced it to a total of $8,000, or four grand per station.

The stations are WIBR(AM) in Baton Rouge, and WEMX(FM), Kentwood.

This is another case in which an owner responded “no” on a license renewal form when asked if it had placed the necessary issues/programs documentation in its public inspection files at the appropriate times. The omissions in this case took place in 1999 through 2003.

On its license renewal paperwork, Citadel told the FCC that most of the absent quarterly issues and programs lists had been re-created and placed in the files and that steps had been taken to assure that future lists were kept correctly.

Notices of apparent liability for $9,000 for each of the two stations were issued in August 2004; Citadel appealed the next month, arguing that the commission had been inconsistent in issuing fines in similar cases; it compiled a list of stations that had received smaller forfeitures.

However, the FCC now has ruled, the stations in this case each had at least 12 missing quarterly issues/programs lists over a five-year period, so its $9,000-per-station fines were consistent.

However, the commission staff has accepted the argument that Citadel was not licensee of the stations until June of 2001; so it reduced the fine.