The FCC has traditionally fined low-power FMs in the hundreds of dollars for rule infractions, but in the case of Power Ministries’ WRLE(LP), Dunellon, Fla, the agency felt a $12,000 penalty was called for.
In June of 2010, FCC agents from the Tampa, Fla. office responded to an interference complaint from the FAA in Jacksonville, Fla. They traced the signal to WRLE. But the operator on-duty wouldn’t turn off the transmitter when asked, nor would the station owner authorize it, according to the commission.
“An agent spoke to the station owner on the telephone, reiterating the safety of life hazard and requesting that the station turn off its transmitter. The station owner refused to turn off the transmitter or instruct his station representative to do so, unless his station engineer was present,” stated the commission.
Thirty minutes later, the owner arrived and allowed an inspection and turned off the transmitter.
While waiting for the owner, the field agents noticed the transmitter wasn’t certified. The gear was a PTEK amplifier, model FM250E, and a CSI exciter, model EX20F. When the unit was turned off, the agents said, “the spurious emissions and interference to the FAA ceased.”
Power Ministries later told the FCC the noncertified transmitter had been used at WRLE from March to June of 2010. It said a certified transmitter was being used as of that July.
The commission found the violations were “particularly egregious,” and that’s why it fined WRLE $12,000.
The station can either pay the fine, or argue why the penalty should be cancelled or reduced; it has 30 days to do so.