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Missing Records Garner Stations Some Large Fines

Two companies each to pay $27,000 in separate but similar cases involving multiple stations.

The Federal Communications Commission wrapped up some large public file fines this week.

Commission fines in separate cases involving Capital Assets and LaSalle County Broadcasting have reached the forfeiture stage.

The Capital Assets cases involve WBMH(FM) in Grove Hill, Ala., and, separately, WRJX(AM) and WHOD(FM) in Jackson, Ala. The fines are $9,000 for each station for a total of $27,000.

At the Jackson stations, the FCC said the public file lacked several issues/program lists as far back as 1998. The station said a former manager failed to properly organize the information and it has since taken steps to bring the file up to date. Any fine would impose a financial hardship, the station asserted.

The commission disagreed with the station’s assertion of a previously clean record and said they didn’t turn in the proper paperwork to merit a reduction. The agency upheld the $18,000 fine for WRJX and WHOD and said it wants the money in 30 days.

The WBMH case goes back to 2004, when the commission said that station too was missing issues/program lists. WBMH also said a former manager had not properly organized the file. It got a new manager who fixed the problem and the station asked for the fine to be reduced.

While it recognizes the licensee’s efforts, “corrective action taken to come into compliance with the rules is expected, and does not nullify or mitigate any prior violations,” stated the commission in its decision to keep the penalty at $9,000.

As for LaSalle, the commission said WAJK(FM) and WLPO(AM), LaSalle, Ill. as well as WKOT(FM) in Marseilles, Ill. had missing issues/program lists since 1996. LaSalle VP Joyce McCullough told the agency she saw some of the missing reports “but does not know what happened to them,” according to the commission decision, which added that she speculated the reports were tossed during staff turnover. The commission also upheld its total $27,000 fine and said the funds are due within 30 days.