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FCC Denies Beasley Complaint Against Tampa LPFM

But does fine the LPFM for an underwriting credit that crossed line

The FCC has denied a complaint by Beasley Broadcast Group against a Tampa noncommercial low-power FM for airing commercials and an all-music lineup instead of educational and cultural programming it had promised when it applied for the license.

But the FCC did decide that the LPFM had aired one ad; the station’s owner, Hispanic Arts, agreed to a consent decree under which it will pay a $2,000 fine.

Beasley, which owns seven stations in Tampa, most of them all-music formats, alleged the licensee had violated the terms of its license and the FCC should review its status.

In its construction permit for the station, WVVF(LP), filed in November 2013, Hispanic Arts had contended that its mission was “promoting the rich history and culture of Hispanics in the Tampa Bay area” through a variety of broadcast programs, including poetry, cultural programs, news and weather, live broadcasts of local events, community calendar, history, interviews politics, discussion and music programming.”

Beasley complained that given that the station was only airing music, it was not advancing its educational mission, and was airing ads as well.

Hispanic arts said it was first trying to build an audience by initially airing Spanish-language music, including that by local artists, and that it was airing permissible underwriting credits.

The FCC’s Media Bureau said there was historically a high bar for designating a station’s license for hearing “unless circumstances have arisen that would make operation of the station against the public interest,” and said that was not the case here. “The commission has previously accepted all-music formats as advancing an educational program,” it said.

As to airing commercials, the FCC did conclude that one of those underwriting credits did violate the FCC’s rules against ads on noncoms, but that the $2,000 penalty took care of that.