The licensee of an AM station in Louisiana will have to pay its fine for violations involving tower lighting and nighttime power — though it was able to get the fine reduced.
Pittman Broadcasting Services is licensee of KVOL(AM) in Lafayette, La., and owner of an antenna structure. Enforcement Bureau agents out of New Orleans found a top beacon was dark after sunset and that no NOTAM had been issued. Later they monitored the station and saw the transmitter power increase approximately 12 dB at 6:05 p.m. on two evenings. The station is authorized to operate at 5,000 kW day and 1 kW night.
They visited the next day for an inspection. “The station’s chief engineer was unaware that the top beacon on the antenna structure was extinguished,” the staff wrote. “After the agents so informed him, he contacted the FAA. Although the station had installed an automatic alarm system, the chief engineer explained his ignorance of the outage by surmising that either the person responsible for reading the system did not know how to read it or the system was broken.
“After checking the station transmitter, the chief engineer stated that the transmitter was programmed incorrectly and was mistaking AM for PM. He stated that the transmitter’s uninterruptible power supply was not functioning, which may have prevented the unit from remembering the correct time. Accordingly, the station was incorrectly programmed to transmit overpower at night with daytime power. The chief engineer stated neither he nor station staff were aware of this, prior to the inspection.”
The New Orleans office announced a $14,000 fine last spring. Pittman then asked for a reduction or cancellation, in part because the problems identified by the commission had since been addressed; but the FCC now says no reduction was justified for those reasons. It did however accept Pittman’s argument of financial hardship and reduced the fine to $10,000.