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Cluster Faces $25,000 Public File Fine

Five-station Pacific Empire property in Oregon had a visit last August

Even during a change of management, you need to make sure your public inspection files are kept up.

Pacific Empire Radio Corp. is facing a possible $25,000 fine in the latest public file case to come out of the FCC. It received a notice of apparent liability for forfeiture and has been given 30 days to certify that it is now in compliance with inspection file rules at five stations in Oregon.

The stations are KLBM(AM) and KUBQ(FM), La Grande; KBKR(AM) and KKBC(FM),Baker; and KRJT(FM), Elgin. The FCC said an agent visited the stations in La Grande in August last year and found that the files did not contain issues/programs lists for 12 consecutive quarters for any of its five stations, through Q2 of 2011.

Responding to an FCC letter, the company said the files were missing “due to the lack of transparency between new management and outgoing management,” and that “in this process the files were either misplaced or missing altogether.” Pacific Empire said it was updating the lists and had developed a timeline to finish by mid-October.

The base fine is usually $10,000 per station; in this circumstance the commission settled on a total penalty of $25,000 based on the number of stations involved, the fact that files were partially complete and that the missing lists “would have been substantially similar given the proximity of the communities served by the stations.” The company has 30 days to pay or appeal.

The company also had a history of compliance, though the FCC noted that the August inspection visit also had resulted in separate notices of violation against the stations concerning EAS logs and chief operator designation.