A proposed EAS fine for JCE Licenses LLC has progressed to a forfeiture order, though the amount has been reduced. It’s part of a batch of EAS-related activity from the FCC this week.
JCE owns KBXD(AM), Dallas. The FCC says the station failed to maintain operational EAS equipment and logs.
The penalty stems from an inspection in January 2013, when an agent noted the omission. According to the Enforcement Bureau, KBXD’s GM admitted the station had been operating without working EAS gear since the prior November. The bureau assessed the penalty in February 2014.
JCE appealed, saying that when the inspector came, the station was still operating under a construction permit so the EAS rules shouldn’t apply. The licensee also told the commission that its Sage EAS unit arrived damaged, with “defective firmware” shortly after the inspection, according to the commission’s account.
The licensee returned the unit for repairs; it was fixed and installed March 7, 2013; KBXD began normal operations March 27.
In its appeal, JCE told the agency the fine should be cancelled or reduced because its violation was “less egregious” than similar cases, according to the agency’s decision. Further, JCE asserted that its parent company is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings and a fine “would impose a dire economic burden on JCE that it may not be able to recover from.”
The commission was not swayed by these arguments. A station must have working EAS equipment no matter what operational mode it’s in, stated the bureau in its decision, which also indicated the financial documentation JCE provided doesn’t provide a sufficient basis to reduce the penalty.
However, the bureau did reduce the penalty from the original $9,000 to $7,200 based on the licensee’s history of compliance with FCC rules. The commission will file a claim as part of JCE’s bankruptcy proceedings and noted that payment is due within 30 days.