FCC Hits Texas Station with Fine for Violations Possibly Dating Back 22 Years

By Kevin Eck 

fcc-logo_white-on-blackThe Federal Communications Commission levied an $86,400 fine on the parent company of Midland and Odessa,Texas NBC affiliate KWES.

The FCC says it asked Midessa Television, which also owns KTLE in Odessa, KWAB in Big Spring and KTLD in Midland, about its use of Broadcast Auxiliary Services for audio and video feeds between its studio and transmitter sites.

Midessa responded on January 31, 2014, and admitted that it operated three BAS facilities without authorization and failed to operate six BAS facilities in accordance with their respective authorizations. Midessa noted that it learned of the violations in May 2012 in the course of conducting an audit of its BAS facilities.

TVTechnology writes the violations surfaced when Midessa applied “for three new as-built stations and six modified stations in April of 2013.”

“Midessa stated that, even after interviewing former station staff, it could not identify the exact dates the violations occurred, but that they probably were ongoing at various times for at least four years,” the Notice said. “Further, Midessa stated that it could not rule out the possibility that some of the stations were noncompliant at the times of their acquisitions in 1991 and 2001.”

Despite this, Midessa continued operating the BAS stations in violation of FCC rules until April, 2013, when it submitted its applications. Further, the FCC said, Midessa conceded that the stations may have been out of compliance for as long as 22 years. The commission viewed this as “willful” and “repeated” violations.

The base fine for unauthorized station operation is $10,000 and $4,000 for unauthorized emissions, using an unauthorized frequency and construction or operation at an unauthorized location. The commission determined the base forfeiture in this case to be $54,000—$30,000 for the three unauthorized BAS stations, and $24,000 for those operating at variance.

Midessa argued that the base forfeiture for the first three should be $4,000 since the BAS operations in question were associated with full-power TV station licenses and should be treated as BAS studio transmitter links. The commission declined.

“We also conclude that an upward adjustment of $32,400 is warranted for the extended duration of the violations,” the commission said.