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Failure to Lower Your Power? Pay the Man

Oregon AM told FCC agent the necessary gear was too costly

What happens if you’re an AM station and you don’t lower power at night?

If you are KCKX, it may cost you a $6,000 fine. And if you’ve been on the hook with the commission before, it also generates a warning about possible harsher penalties in the future.

The FCC has issued a notice of apparent liability to Donald Coss, owner of that station in Stayton, Ore., for not operating in accordance with the authorized nighttime power specified on his license. The commission said its Portland office monitored the signal of KCKX before and after local sunset. Field strength was found 115 mV/m at 1 kilometer away, both before and after sunset, on consecutive days last April. “The agent also captured KCKX(AM)’s relative signal strengths for its daytime and nighttime operations and determined that there was no reduction in signal strength for the nighttime operation,” the commission reported.

A few days later the FCC agent inspected the station at its control point in Woodburn, the commission also said.

“The Portland agent requested a demonstration of a reduction of the authorized operating daytime power of 1,000 watts to the authorized nighttime power of 15 watts. A technical representative from station KCKX(AM), after consulting with a contract engineer by telephone, attempted to dial out preprogrammed codes to the transmitter site to demonstrate the power reduction. The technical representative was not able to reduce the nighttime power to 15 watts for nighttime operation.”

The commission said that during an interview with the Portland agent, the owner said he was aware of the requirement to reduce operating power at night but said it was too costly to maintain the necessary time-keeping devices, power switching devices and other equipment.

The FCC noted that the Enforcement Bureau in 2000 had issued a notice of violation to Coss for failing to reduce the nighttime power at the station. It issued the NAL for a $6,000 fine and instructed Coss to send a sworn statement about how he’ll fix the problem. “We caution Coss that future violations of our rules may subject him to more severe enforcement penalties.”