FCC Reduces Fine Against Translator Operator

Ace of Hearts DJ service fine upheld for overpowered transmitter, wrong antenna system
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Randy Bennett, owner of Ace of Hearts DJ service, owes the FCC $11,000 for operating an FM translator with improper equipment and at more than authorized power levels.

Bennett also has 30 days to submit a statement that the service is operating the translator in Cape Canaveral, Fla. consistent with its license authorization.

In March 2011, the Enforcement Bureau’s Tampa office issued a proposed $13,000 fine to Ace for using an unauthorized transmitting antenna system and operating at more than its authorized transmitter power output.

The FCC stated in its decision this week: “When operating with its authorized transmitter output power of 61 watts, the expected field strength for station W277AN’s signal is 47 mV/m. On Oct. 28, 2009, and on Feb. 7, Sept. 22, and Sept. 24, 2010, agents from the Tampa office measured the field strength for station W277AN’s signal at 82 mV/m, 92 mV/m, 74 mV/m, and 82 mV/m, respectively.”

The translator was also operating with a two-antenna array, though Ace was authorized to operate with a single antenna, according to the commission.

Ace says it’s now operating within its authorized power levels and with an authorized antenna system. Ace asked for the penalty to be waived or reduced, arguing that the higher power levels may have been caused by an unknown third party tampering with the transmission equipment, and the antenna issue was the result of a typo on an application, according to the account.

The commission was not persuaded that someone tampered with the transmitter and caused the TPO to be too high. The agency said Ace provided no proof, stating: “We find it implausible that an unrelated third party would know when Ace would conduct inspections of its transmitter and ensure that the power levels were properly set on those dates; and then, at the same time, know when the commission would conduct unannounced inspections and measurements and, in anticipation of such inspections, deliberately adjust the transmitter to reflect overpower operations only during those dates.”

The commission also said it was up to Ace to review its license application and make sure it was specifying the proper antenna array.

However, after the original fine was levied, Ace filed an application to modify its license to a two-antenna array so the commission cut the fine by $2,000.

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