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WTRI Fined $18,000

WTRI Fined $18,000

The FCC doesn’t like to be ignored.
The licensee of a Maryland station was slapped with $18,000 in FCC fines for not enclosing its antenna with a locked fence, not having a meaningful staff presence at its main studio and ignoring commission correspondence.
On two occasions in 2002, the FCC said a field agent found WTRI(AM), Brunswick, Md. locked and unstaffed. On the second attempt to inspect the facility, the agent found a note on the door directing visitors to a home across the street. It belonged to the chief engineer, who unlocked the station and let the agent in so the inspection could be completed. The agent also found one of the antennas in the three-tower array was not enclosed in a locked fence.
The commission says it mailed the initial notice of a fine to licensee, JMK Communications, and then a follow up letter but received no reply to either documents.
JMK argued the penalty should be cancelled or reduced because the unstaffed main studio was a “temporary anomaly,” the gap in the fence wasn’t big enough to allow public access and it has taken steps to make sure commission correspondence is handled properly in the future.
The commission said the staffing situation was not temporary and WTRI’s own photos show that, with a gap of 6 feet, the public could access the tower.
JMK also said it had good past compliance. The commission dug up a recent fine for another JMK station and rejected that argument too.
JMK has 30 days to pay.