In keeping with lasts month's "meaningful management and staff presence" Notice of Apparent Liability ("NAL"), the FCC again upwardly adjusted a fine, totaling $10,000, against a Pennsylvania broadcaster for repeated failure to maintain at least one management level and one staff level employee at the main studio during regular business hours as required by Section 73.1125 of the FCC's Rules. At the time of the initial inspection by a local Enforcement Bureau Field Agent, the "main studio", which was located within a church, was unattended and locked.
The FCC requires that licensees maintain a "meaningful management and staff presence" at a station's main studio. Based on a 1991 FCC decision, the FCC defines "meaningful" as at least one management level employee and one staff level employee generally being present "during normal business hours."
Church personnel informed the Field Agent that "no one associated with the station works at the main studio location and the room is always locked." Once contacted, the station engineer arrived at the main studio within half an hour so as to participate in the inspection. Before the conclusion of that inspection, the Field Agent informed the station engineer of the licensee's obligation to staff the main studio during regular business hours.
A follow up inspection took place less than a month later and the Field Agent again found the station unattended and locked during regular business hours. The Field Agent contacted the licensee, who acquired the station in early 2008. A representative of the licensee indicated that she was "unaware of the main studio requirement and would thereafter staff the station's main studio.…" The base fine for violating the Main Studio Rule is $7000. Section 503 of the United States Code provides the FCC with the authority to adjust the penalties downward or upward based on the "nature, circumstances, extent and gravity of the violations, and with respect to the violator, the degree of culpability, any history of prior offenses, ability to pay, and other such matters as justice may require." In this case, the FCC found that the station's "failure to correct the violation after receiving a warning during the first inspection was egregious and warranted an upward adjustment," costing the licensee an extra $3,000 on top of the $7,000 base fine.