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FCC Fines Beacon $18,000

Commission cites AM nighttime power, wrong FM STL frequency and public file violation

Beacon Broadcasting had a visit from the FCC last fall, and it did not go well.

The FCC now has fined the company a total of $18,000 for two technical issues and a public file violation. The stations involved are WGRP(AM), WEXC(FM) and an aural studio transmitter link, all in Greenville, Pa.

A November 2009 inspection by an agent from the Enforcement Bureau’s Philadelphia office revealed the issues. By making field strength measurements of the WGRP signal and observing the daytime antenna input power, the field agent calculated that WGRP was operating with 26.9 Watts at night, rather than its licensed nighttime power of 2.2 Watts.

The FCC said in its decision the field agent found that Beacon was operating a Nautel AM transmitter (Model J1000) and that it had programmed the transmitter to automatically reduce power to 28 Watts at night. The commission checked with Nautel, which told the FCC the transmitter “is not capable of operating at 2 Watts without experiencing audio distortion.”

Beacon shares the WGRP main studio with co-owned FM WEXC. During the inspection, the agent reviewed the STL for WEXC and found Beacon was operating a Moseley Associates STL (Model PCL505) on 951.5 MHz. However, the commission found that Beacon had cancelled that STL license and was only authorized to operate an STL for WEXC on 948 MHz.

The agent also found that WGRP’s public inspection file had no radio issues/programs lists since its last renewal grant in 2006. Beacon said former management had not prepared the documents.

Beacon has 30 days to either pay the fine or ask to have it reduced or cancelled.