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FCC Reaffirms $10,000 Fine Against KVTO

Another station finds out the hard way that public file omissions can be costly

The Federal Communications Commission has affirmed a $10,000 fine against Urban Radio, licensee of KVTO(AM), Berkeley, Calif., for failing to maintain a public file correctly.

In 2005, Urban filed license renewal form 303-S and noted that eight issues/programs lists were missing from its public inspection file; those were later replaced.

Urban had asked for the fine to be eliminated or reduced, arguing that it voluntarily disclosed the omissions, and that no listeners or others had commented on the application or the omission. Urban also brought up its good compliance history and also suggested the large fine is inappropriate for a minority-owned station.

The commission rejected all of Urban’s arguments; it said, as it has in numerous similar cases, that voluntary admission of holes in your file doesn’t warrant a reduced fine. Even the omission of one item from the public file is serious, the agency said , because it “diminishes the public’s ability to determine and comment on whether the station is serving the community.”

The FCC also rejected the suggestion that it should take into consideration whether a station is minority owned when assessing a penalty. It reduces fines only when documentation of financial hardship is provided. None was given here, the FCC said in its decision to re-affirm the penalty.