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FCC Denies LPFM’s Petition in Translator Interference Case

The low-power licensee finds itself facing a $2,500 NAL instead

Colorful logo of WSGD "Suga 95.7"The FCC has ruled against a Florida LPFM station in a case involving alleged interference from another company’s translator. And the LPFM now also faces a possible financial penalty itself.

The Media Bureau has rejected a petition of reconsideration from Dwayne Williams and his company Sumarrase, the licensee of WSGD(LP) in Lehigh Acres, Fla. He had asked the commission to withdraw the license of a translator in Golden Gate, Fla., that belongs to Fort Myers Broadcasting Co. and rebroadcasts WINK(FM). The LPFM and translator both are on 95.7 MHz.

The case began with a change of site for the translator that was approved in 2020. What followed included documentation of listener complaints and claims of interference on the one hand, and accusations that Sumarrase was operating high-power facilities and had a “pattern of abusive reconsideration filings” among other arguments, on the other hand.

The FCC order summarizes the case, the legal back-and-forths and allegations; an acrimonious history between the parties comes through even in the footnotes. You can read it online. But the upshot is that the Media Bureau now has dismissed the LPFM’s petition to pull the translator license on several procedural and substantive grounds.

One was that Sumarrase has operated the LPFM with an unauthorized two-bay antenna instead of its authorized single-bay. The FCC staff has separately issued a notice of apparent liability for a $2,500 forfeiture for that. According to the FCC Sumarrase initially refuted it but later told the commission an error had been made after an earlier CP amendment application for two bays was denied; it said the bigger model was specified inadvertently.

The commission added in a footnote that if the LPFM still receives interference from the translator after correcting the violation and operating within approved parameters, it is not precluded from filing another interference complaint.

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