Dennis Watkins, the trustee of Entertainment Media Trust, is facing a total of about $50,000 in fines for equipment violations at one AM station and public file violations at four AMs, according to the FCC.
The commission fined Watkins $25,000 for operating KZQZ(AM), St. Louis, with an incorrect directional pattern, not performing required annual transmitter performance measurements and for incomplete public files for both KZQZ and KQQZ(AM), DeSoto, Mo.
Watkins also was fined a total of $24,000 for not maintaining complete public files nor being able to produce them during normal business hours for WQQW(AM), Highland, Ill., and WQQX(AM), East St. Louis, Ill.
After receiving a complaint, in April 2010 FCC field agents took field strength measurements some 3,281 feet away from the KZQZ transmitter and saw no change after 6:30 p.m.; that’s when the station must switch from a daytime to nighttime directional pattern during the month of April. During an inspection of both KZQZ and KQQZ, the agents also noted that some of the required issues/program lists were missing from the public inspection files for both stations. KZQZ personnel told the agents the station had received comments from the public on its website, but none of those were in the public file, according to the agency.
Later that month, an agent took field intensity measurements after KZQZ manually switched to a nighttime directional pattern; the field intensity value was one-tenth of what it had been the previous evening. KZQZ told the agents it had no remote monitoring equipment and no operator had observed the transmission system to see if the directional pattern was correct for the relevant time of day. Station management also told the agency it had no transmission monitoring procedures and no logs, other than those pertaining to the Emergency Alert System.
At the end of April 2010, the FCC sent a Letter of Inquiry to Watkins, asking for copies of the last set of equipment performance measurements for KZQZ to demonstrate compliance with spurious and harmonic emissions requirements. Watkins told the commission arrangements were “in process” but not coordinated because of time constraints that would be corrected.
The commission said Entertainment Media Trust acquired KZQZ in 2008 and should have conducted annual equipment performance measurements that year as well as in 2009. The agency also said it found no evidence the trust maintained public files for both KZQZ and KQQZ since it acquired the stations.
The public file fines were influenced by missing items in the public files of two more of Watkins’ stations, WQQX and WQQW, during inspections on the same day as KZQZ and KQQZ. That raised “concerns the licensee may have a systematic compliance issue with the commission’s public inspection file rules,” according to the agency.
Responding to a complaint, the FCC inspected colocated WQQX and WQQW at the stations’ main studio in Belleville, Ill. When asked about public inspection files, personnel could only produce ownership reports from 2008, before Entertainment Media Trust took over the stations, according to the commission.
Entertainment Media Trust has 30 days to appeal all of the fines.
— Leslie Stimson