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Several FCC Fines Focus on Tech Violations

Commission finalizes a $25,000 penalty and plans several other fines in separate cases

The past few days have seen a flurry of FCC fine activity related to station technical operations.

The commission notified East Carolina Radio in Columbia, N.C., of its apparent liability for a $10,000 fine for failure to exhibit red obstruction lighting from sunset to sunrise and failing to maintain required logs regarding lighting outages and regular maintenance of its remote monitoring equipment. A pilot had complained to the FAA about a tower that was mostly unlit. The company owns WERX(FM).

Separately, the FCC finalized a $25,000 fine against Spirit Broadcasting and station WGTM(AM) in Wilson, North Carolina, for failure to maintain operational Emergency Alert System equipment, enclose an active antenna tower within a locked fence and maintain a public file. The commission said the station did not appeal the notice of apparent liability issued in July, which RW reported at the time.

The commission notified Equity Communications, which owns WMID(AM) in Atlantic City, N.J., of a planned fine of $20,000 for failure to repaint its antenna structure and enclose it within a locked fence. Agents said that an inspection in March 2010 found the tower faded and chipped, and with an unlocked gate. The fine was increased, the commission said, because WMID’s violations had not been addressed when agents came back and despite “repeated” warnings about faded paint and unlocked gates.

And the FCC notified Catholic Radio Network of a proposed fine of $4,000 for failure to operate KPIO(AM) in Loveland, Colo., at authorized power. Last December and January, an agent monitored the field strength and found that it didn’t change at sunset or sunrise. On a subsequent visit, an agent inspected while accompanied by the station owner and contract engineer, and found that KPIO had been operating at approximately 1,531 watts at night on the prior dates, “well above” its authorized nighttime operating power level of 11 to 32 watts during post-sunset, nighttime and pre-sunrise hours in December and January. “The station’s chief engineer subsequently investigated the status of the station’s operating power and found, as the potential explanation for the excess power level, a faulty remote control system, a defective transmitter power reading meter and a defective base current meter,” the FCC wrote.

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