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Indiana Noncom Must Pay Fine It Says It Can’t Afford

FCC rejects appeal from WRFM

Indiana noncommercial station WRFM in Wilkinson must pay an $8,000 fine in a dispute over special temporary authorization, the FCC says — even though the station has told the commission it does not have the money.

In March of 2012, the Enforcement Bureau’s Chicago Office issued a notice of apparent liability to the licensee, Hoosier Public Radio Corp., for operating without an STA on 89.1 MHz from an antenna mounted on a farm silo three miles from the licensed transmitter location. The FCC also said spurious emissions from the silo location caused harmful interference to aviation, which led the commission to increase the proposed penalty.

Hoosier argued that it had indeed filed an STA request to operate at the silo and that there was insufficient evidence to support the claim of interference. It also said it has a history of compliance and provided paperwork to show it could not afford to pay the fine. It told the FCC it has zero income or cash on hand.

The FCC rejected all of these arguments. It said Hoosier’s first STA request had contained bad data and was denied. A subsequent STA was issued not for the farm silo but for a church steeple at a different location. The commission ruled that the station didn’t prove claims regarding earlier STA requests. It also said the FAA had reported interference on aeronautical frequency 126.83 MHz, and that the problem went away when the WRFM transmitter was turned off.

The commission also rejected the station’s appeal that it could not afford the fine. It wrote that WRFM hadn’t provided proper financial information. Further: “We find it entirely implausible that a corporation operating a radio station could have zero income and zero cash on hand,” so it found the documentation unreliable.

Although no prior sanctions have been issued to Hoosier, “the investigation at issue here has revealed that Hoosier never constructed the station at the location authorized in the station’s license, which was granted in 2008.” So the FCC upheld the $8,000 penalty.