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Tower Upkeep Problems Lead to $25,000 Fine

FCC plans fine on WGBN(AM), and not for the first time

In a case involving proper tower lighting and painting, the Federal Communications Commission plans a $25,000 fine against Pentecostal Temple Development Corp., licensee of WGBN(AM) in Lincoln Borough, Pa.

In a notice of apparent liability, the Enforcement Bureau writes that Pentecostal “apparently willfully and repeatedly” violated commission rules by failing to light and repaint its antenna structures to maintain good visibility, and that it also failed to notify the FAA of a lighting outage, failed to complete the lighting and marking repairs to the antenna structures by the end of August 2016 and failed to comply after multiple warnings.

WGBN owns five antenna towers, four of which are at this site; two were at issue in the case. The base forfeiture amount is $10,000 but the commission staff decided that an upward adjustment was warranted because the apparent violations continued despite repeated warnings, “demonstrating a deliberate disregard for the rules.” (The FCC noted that the law authorizes it to assess up to $47,340 for each day of a continuing violation, up to a statutory maximum of $473,402 for a single act or failure to act.)

According to the FCC’s summary, agents from the Enforcement Bureau’s Philadelphia Office inspected the antenna structures in late 2015 in response to an anonymous complaint. They saw faded and chipped paint. On a subsequent visit they found that a top-level beacon on one tower was out, and that one of two side steady-burning obstruction lighting globes on another was out. The commission also found no record of the required notice to airmen. It subsequently issued a notice of violation.

In its responses to the notice, Pentecostal acknowledged some problems but said it was planning to have the towers repainted and lighting problems fixed. But the FCC said this apparently did not occur; another inspection in August found old paint and lighting outages. The broadcaster has 30 days to pay or reply seeking reduction or cancellation.

This is not the station’s first brush with the Enforcement Bureau. In September 2009, Pentecostal was fined $5,000 because of several alleged technical violations. The station was also hit with a notice of apparent liability in 2003 for $3,000 in a case involving EAS practices.

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