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PSN Fined $20,000 in Programming Case Involving Interfering Mexican Stations

PSN Fined $20,000 in Programming Case Involving Interfering Mexican Stations

The FCC found Pacific Spanish Network, Inc. that the Chula Vista, Calif. broadcaster is apparently liable for a $20,000 fine for providing program material via the Internet to a Mexican AM station in violation of its authorization.
The Mexican stations are the same three stations that were interfering with U.S. broadcasters for several months, according to the FCC. A source familiar with the case told RW Online the commission began receiving interference complaints last fall.
PSA’s president is Jaime Bonilla. The FCC says he also has an attributable interest in the three Mexican stations at issue.
In 2003, PSA asked for permission to supply programming via the Internet to three AMs in Baja, on the California, Mexican border: XEKTT, on 550 kHz, XESS on 780 kHz and XESDD on 920 kHz.
The International Bureau approved the application so PSN could supply Spanish-language entertainment programming to XEKTT in Tecate, Mexico; XESS, Ensenada, Mexico; and XEDD, also in Ensenada, Mexico.
The problem, however, was the stations were operating on frequencies not coordinated nor approved under the treaty between the U.S. and Mexico, and they were operating at such high power levels they were interfering with AMs in Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Francisco, according to sources. The Mexican government notified the U.S. of the applications for the frequencies, but then went ahead and approved them without waiting for the FCC to approve and coordinate them, according to the commission.
Bonilla also said he did not verify, and did not know he was required to verify, that that the Mexicans’ station operations had been coordinated and would comply with the agreement between the two countries for frequency coordination.
Several U.S. stations, as a group, filed a petition to ask the FCC to rescind PSN’s permit: KUZZ(AM), 550 kHz Bakersfield, Calif.; KLAC(AM), 570 kHz, Los Angeles; KFYI(AM), 550 kHz, Phoenix, Ariz.; KBLU(AM), 560 kHz Yuma, Ariz.; and KSFO(AM), 560 kHz, San Francisco.
Specifically, XEKTT had not been coordinated nor approved to operate on either 560 kHz or 550 kHz, although the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau confirmed the station was operating on 560 kHz at increased power levels from a new transmitter site in January.
Bonilla told the FCC he thought that even though XEKTT had changed frequencies, he thought he could still supply programming. He stopped supply the programming in February.
Because he continued supplying programming for a month after he found out XEKTT was not in compliance with the U.S.-Mexican frequency coordination treaty and causing interference to U.S. stations, the commission find the PSN president $20,000.
Months of high-level talks between the U.S. and Mexico led to an agreement about the interference in late June. Bonilla agreed to shut down the offending operations, although he stated at the time he did not recall being informed his stations were causing interference, and he agreed to change frequencies for the stations: XEKTT moved from 560 kHz to 1700 kHz at 10 kW fulltime; and XESS was to move from 780 kHz to 620 at 5 kW fulltime and XESDD was to move from 920 kHz to 1020 kHz at 5kW fulltime.