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San Diego AM Fined for Missing Files

FCC sanctions licensee with $12,000 fine and restricted license term

Yet another station feels the sting of failing to keep public files updated.

Quetzal Bilingual Communications was looking to renew the license of KURS(AM) in San Diego but ran into issues because, the FCC says, the licensee allegedly “willfully and repeatedly” violated the rules by failing to retain required documentation in its public inspection file or filing certain biennial ownership reports.

The Media Bureau tagged the licensee with a $12,000 fine and sanctioned Quetzal by limiting the grant of its license to four years instead of the usual eight.

The rules require broadcasters to maintain a public inspection file that includes the station’s quarterly issues/programs and to provide a biannual ownership report when filing for renewal, then every two years thereafter.

Quetzal seems to have run afoul in two ways. After noting that the quarterly programs/problems reports were missing, Quetzal said they were being brought up to date; but when commission staff asked for a detailed listing of re-created issues and programs, the licensee failed to respond, according to an FCC account.

In addition, the bureau said Quetzal’s biannual reports were missing for 2007, 2009 and 2011, even though the licensee said the reports had been filed. Bureau staff asked for this issue to be addressed, but Quetzal failed to do so, the bureau said.

As in other cases, the FCC has noted that make-goods don’t absolve a station when it comes to certain violations.

“Where such lapses occur, neither the negligent acts or omissions of station employees or agents, nor the subsequent remedial actions undertaken by the licensee, excuse or nullify a licensee’s rule violation,” the bureau wrote this month.The base fine for such lapses is $10,000; the commission tacked on an additional $2,000 fine for what it called “extensive” violations over an 18-month time period.

It also found that the licensee’s conduct doesn’t warrant a routine license renewal. When everything is considered together, “[this] constitutes a pattern of abuse over a period of years,” the bureau stated. As such, it concluded that a short-term license renewal is the appropriate sanction.

Quetzal has 30 days to respond in writing or to pay the $12,000 fine.