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Fine Greatly Reduced for Entertainment Media Trust

Licensee of Missouri AM penalized for operating KZQZ with its daytime directional pattern at night

A proposed $25,000 fine against Entertainment Media Trust for incorrectly broadcasting with daytime power and not performing annual equipment performance measurements has been reduced to $8,500.

Dennis Watkins is the licensee of the two Missouri AM stations involved: KZQZ in St. Louis and KQQZ in DeSoto.

In May 2011, the Kansas City office of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau proposed the fine against the trust for operating KZQZ with its daytime directional pattern at night, failing to conduct required equipment performance measurements for KZQZ in 2008 and 2009, and failing to maintain and make available complete public inspection files for stations KZQZ and KQQZ. The deficiencies came to light during an inspection in 2010.

A complaint that alleged KQQZ had been operating 24 hours a day with daytime power for weeks triggered the inspection.

Entertainment Media Trust blamed the pattern issue on equipment failure, telling the FCC its supervising engineer was out of town during the inspection when the equipment responsible for automatically switching the signal malfunctioned. The station had no remote control nor monitoring equipment installed. The trust said the transmitter was switched manually until the gear could be fixed. The trust also told the commission there are now procedures in place to monitor the pattern switching to verify it occurs.

According to FCC rules, AM licensees must make equipment performance measurements for each main transmitter annually, with not more than 14 months between measurements.

During the inspection, the agents found several issues/programs lists for both stations were missing from their public inspection files. Entertainment Media Trust said that happened when it consolidated the business operations of KZQZ and KQQZ, plus two additional stations, into one location and some items were lost or misplaced.

The commission Thursday upheld its decision, but reduced the fine based on proof of gross revenues submitted by the trust to prove that it can’t afford to pay the whole amount. The agency said $8,500 is not excessive and gave the trust 30 days to pay.