LPFM Fine Reduced in FAA Interference Case

WRLE at first refused to turn off its transmitter, commission says
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A low-power FM station that interfered with FAA frequencies in Florida will have to pay a $1,500 fine for operating without an FCC-certified transmitter. But it convinced the commission to slash the penalty from the original $12,000.

Power Ministries is the licensee of WRLE(LP) in Dunnellon, Fla. Last September the Enforcement Bureau issued a notice of apparent liability, saying the station had operated with a non-certified transmitter for about three months the year before. The commission had responded to a complaint of interference from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Jacksonville Center to air traffic control frequency 133.75 MHz.

The proposed fine was $12,000 but the station appealed in a letter from Power Ministries owner Anthony Downes.

The FCC now has rejected his arguments that the fine should be waived on the grounds that he had acted promptly and had not been aware of interference. (Among other things, the FCC said, the station “deliberately disregarded” an agent’s request that it immediately turn off the transmitter to stop the threat to air traffic control, instead allowing the transmitter to operate unlawfully for another 30 minutes.)

But the commission has accepted the station’s documentation of inability to pay, and it cut the penalty to about 13% of the original amount. “If Power believes that the reduced forfeiture still poses a financial hardship, it may request full payment in installments,” it added.

In the original notice the FCC said the station had been using a PTEK amplifier model FM250E and CSI exciter model EX20F for the period in question. “After the station owner shut down the transmitter, the spurious emissions and interference to the FAA ceased,” the commission wrote.

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