Last month, the FCC issued two Notices of Apparent Liability (“NAL”) for Forfeiture against a Kansas licensee of two AM radio stations for exceeding authorized power limits, failing to maintain authorized directional patterns, and failing to have a complete public inspection file.

The FCC received an anonymous tip alleging that the stations were not operating in compliance with their authorizations. Under the FCC’s rules, “[n]o broadcast station shall operate at times, or with modes or power, other than those specified and made a part of the license, unless otherwise provided.” AM stations must keep their input power between 90% and 105% of their authorized power. The FCC also requires that AM stations using a directional antenna “maintain the relative amplitudes of the antenna currents . . . within 5% of the values specified on the instrument of authorization” and the “antenna relative phases must be maintained within 3 degrees of the values specified on the instrument of authorization.”

After an agent took signal strength readings and inspected the stations, the FCC determined that the stations violated all of the above rules, and further noted that the stations’ public inspection file contained incomplete quarterly programs/issues lists that failed to list any programs aimed at addressing local issues, and that one quarterly programs/issues list was missing entirely.

The base amount of FCC fines depends on the nature of the violation. $4,000 is the base amount for exceeding power limits, $7,000 is the base amount for failing to maintain directional pattern, and $10,000 is the base amount for violating the public file rule. In this case, the FCC found that the base fine was appropriate for each of the violations, resulting in $21,000 in fines for each station, adding up to $42,000 overall for the licensee. In addition, the FCC required that each station submit a written statement within 30 days signed by an officer or director affirming that the station was operating “within authorized power levels and directional parameters.”