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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of
Sparta-Tomah Broadcasting Co., Inc
) FRN: 0002713550
Licensee of Radio Station WKLJ
) File Number: EB-07-CG-164
Facility ID # 61681
Licensee of Radio Station WFBZ ) )
File Number: EB-07-CG-218
Facility ID # 56616 )
NAL/Acct. No: 200832320002
Trempealeau, Wisconsin )
NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY FOR FORFEITURE
Released: May 23, 2008
By the District Director, Chicago Office, Northeast Region, Enforcement
1. In this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture ("NAL"), we find
that Sparta-Tomah Broadcasting Co. Inc. ("Sparta-Tomah"), licensee of
AM Station WKLJ in Sparta, Wisconsin and FM Station WFBZ in
Trempealeau, Wisconsin, apparently willfully and repeatedly violated
Sections 73.1745 and 73.1125 of the Commission's Rules ("Rules") by
operating WKLJ at a power of more than 59 watts during nighttime
hours, in direct contravention of the terms of its station
authorization, and failing to maintain a main studio for WFBZ
consistent with the Rules. We conclude, pursuant to Section 503(b) of
the Communications Act of 1934, as amended ("Act"), that Sparta-Tomah
is apparently liable for forfeiture in the amount of eleven thousand
A. WKLJ OVER-POWERED OPERATION
2. The station authorization for WKLJ specifies that the station must
reduce power from its authorized daytime power of 5000 Watts to its
authorized nighttime power of 59 Watts at local sunset time. On April
4, 2007, a FCC agent conducted an inspection at WKLJ's main studio. A
review of the WKLJ transmitter logs indicated that WKLJ was not
reducing power at night as required by its license during February,
March and April, 2007. Field strength measurements taken by the agent
on May 22, 2007 and May 23, 2007 showed that WKLJ failed to reduce
power to the authorized nighttime levels at local sunset time.
3. On May 24, 2007, the agent conducted a follow-up inspection with the
station's general manager and engineer. The agent again reviewed the
transmitter logs and found that they corroborated the field strength
measurements taken on May 22 and 23, 2007. During the inspection, the
station's engineer and general manager admitted that the station had
not been reducing power at local sunset time since at least January
2007. They further reported that, after the agent's inspection on
April 4, 2007, the station began using a Sine System remote facilities
controller to reduce the transmitter power at night. The general
manager and engineer stated, however, that they were having problems
with setting the time properly on the remote controller, which
resulted in the transmitter not reducing power at local sunset time.
A. WFBZ MAIN STUDIO
4. WFBZ was acquired by Sparta on December 13, 2006, from S & S
Broadcasting. On April 4, 2007, the agent conducted an inspection at
Sparta's headquarters at 113 West Oak Street and was advised that
WFBZ's main studio was located at 419 Sand Lake Road, Suite E,
Onalaska, WI. On May 23, 2007, the agent attempted to conduct an
inspection at the Onalaska office and found that it was locked. Later
that day, WFBZ's engineer met the agent at the Onalaska office so that
the agent could conduct an inspection. The agent observed assorted
broadcast equipment lying on the floor, but the equipment was not
operational and there was no physical radio link or landline
telecommunications data link to the WFBZ transmitter. The only working
equipment the agent observed in the office was a phone and a personal
computer. There were no employees in the office at that time.
5. During an interview on May 24, 2007, WFBZ's general manager and
engineer reported that, after Sparta acquired WFBZ, all of the
station's operations, including the broadcast studio, were moved to
Sparta's headquarters at 113 West Oak Street in Sparta, WI. According
to the general manager, the Onalaska office had one full time employee
until May 21, 2007. The employee's primary responsibility at the
Onalaska office was to answer the phone. The general manager reported
to the agent that Sparta was in the process of installing the
equipment, that it planned to begin operating a studio-to-transmitter
link between the Onalaska office and Sparta's headquarters, and that
it would be assigning staff to work full-time from the Onalaska
6. The agent subsequently interviewed the employee who worked at the
Onalaska office. She told the agent that she worked in the Onalaska
office until May 21, 2007 and that she was the only employee during
that time period. She reported that her primary duty was to answer
the phone and that she had no duties relevant to the operation,
programming, sales or management of WFBZ. She also confirmed that,
during the period of her employment, the broadcast equipment was never
7. Section 503(b) of the Act provides that any person who willfully or
repeatedly fails to comply substantially with the terms and conditions
of any license, or willfully or repeatedly fails to comply with any of
the provisions of the Act or of any rule, regulation or order issued
by the Commission thereunder, shall be liable for a forfeiture
penalty. The term "willful" as used in Section 503(b) of the Act has
been interpreted to mean simply that the acts or omissions are
committed knowingly. The term "repeated" means the commission or
omission of such act more than once or for more than one day.
A. WKLJ OVER-POWERED OPERATION
8. Section 73.1745(a) states that no broadcast station shall operate at
times, or with modes or power, other than those specified and made
part of the license. Station WKLJ's authorization specifies that the
station must reduce power to 59 watts at local sunset time. Field
strength measurements taken by a FCC agent showed that WKLJ failed to
reduce power at local sunset time on May 22, 2007 and May 23, 2007.
Transmitter logs show that, prior to the inspection on April 4, 2007,
the station had not reduced power for several months. The station's
general manager and engineer acknowledged that the station had not
been reducing power since at least January 2007. Because the station
knowingly failed to reduce power to the authorized nighttime levels,
we find that the violation was willful. The violation occurred on more
than one day; therefore, the violation was repeated.
9. Based on the evidence before us, we find that WKLJ apparently
willfully and repeatedly violated Section 73.1745(a) of the
Commission's rules by failing to reduce power to the authorized
nighttime levels, in direct contravention of its station
A. WFBZ MAIN STUDIO
10. Section 73.1125(a) of the Act requires that each station shall
maintain a main studio at one of the following locations (1) Within
the station's community of license; (2) At any location within the
principal community contour . . . , or (3) Within twenty-five miles
from the reference coordinates of the center of its community of
license . . . In addition, "[a] station must equip the main studio
with production and transmission facilities that meet applicable
standards, maintain continuous program transmission capability, and
maintain a meaningful management and staff presence." The Commission
has defined a minimally acceptable "meaningful presence" as full-time
managerial and full-time staff personnel. In addition, there must be
"management and staff presence" on a full-time basis during normal
business hours to be considered "meaningful." Although management
personnel need not be "chained to their desks" during normal business
hours, they must "report to work at the main studio on a daily basis,
spend a substantial amount of time there and...use the studio as a
11. The investigation by the FCC agent showed that WFBZ's reported main
studio at 419 Sand Lake Road, Suite E, Onalaska, WI was not equipped
with any operational production or transmission facilities that would
enable the station to maintain continuous transmission capability.
When the agent conducted an inspection on May 23, 2007, the agent
observed non-operational broadcast equipment lying on the floor. The
station's general manager acknowledged that the station's operations
moved to Sparta's headquarters in Sparta, WI after Sparta purchased
the station in December 2006 and that the equipment in the Onalaska
office was not operational. In addition, a former employee who had
worked at the station until May 21, 2007, stated to the agent that the
broadcast equipment had never been operational.
12. The agent also determined that the station did not have full-time
managerial and staff personnel available during normal business hours.
When the agent attempted to conduct an inspection at the Onalaska
office on May 23, 2007, the agent found the door locked. The agent was
able to conduct an inspection only after the station engineer agreed
to meet him at the office. The agent further learned from the employee
who had worked in the office up until May 21, 2007, that she had been
the only employee at the office. The general manager confirmed to the
agent that the former employee worked at the Onalaska office until May
21, 2007 and that she had been the only employee in that office.
13. We conclude that, by moving WFBZ's operations to its headquarters
without properly staffing and equipping the Onalaska office, Sparta
willfully violated the Commission's main studio rule. Because the
violation continued for more than one day, we conclude that the
violation was repeated. Accordingly, based on the evidence before us,
we find that WKLJ apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Section
73.1125(a) of the Commission's rules by failing to maintain a main
studio for WFBZ in compliance with the Commission's Rules.
IV. FORFEITURE AMOUNT
14. Pursuant to The Commission's Forfeiture Policy Statement and Amendment
of Section 1.80 of the Rules to Incorporate the Forfeiture Guidelines,
("Forfeiture Policy Statement"), and Section 1.80 of the Rules, the
base forfeiture amount for exceeding power limits is $4,000 and the
base forfeiture amount for violation of the main studio rule is
$7,000. In assessing the monetary forfeiture amount, we must also take
into account the statutory factors set forth in Section 503(b)(2)(D)
of the Act, which include the nature, circumstances, extent, and
gravity of the violation, 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." Applying the Forfeiture
Policy Statement, Section 1.80, and the statutory factors to the
instant case, we conclude that Sparta is apparently liable for a
V. ORDERING CLAUSES
15. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 503(b) of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and Sections 0.111, 0.311 and
1.80 of the Commission's Rules, Sparta-Tomah Broadcasting Co. Inc., is
hereby NOTIFIED of this APPARENT LIABILITY FOR A FORFEITURE in the
amount of eleven thousand dollars ($11,000) for violation of Sections
73.1745(a) and 73.1125(a) of the Commission's Rules.
16. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 1.80 of the
Commission's Rules, within thirty (30) days of the release date of
this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, Sparta-Tomah
Broadcasting Co. Inc., SHALL PAY the full amount of the proposed
forfeiture or SHALL FILE a written statement seeking reduction or
cancellation of the proposed forfeiture.
17. Payment of the forfeiture must be made by check or similar instrument,
payable to the order of the Federal Communications Commission. The
payment must include the NAL/Account Number and FRN Number referenced
above. Payment by check or money order may be mailed to Federal
Communications Commission, P.O. Box 979088, St. Louis, MO 63197-9000.
Payment by overnight mail may be sent to U.S. Bank - Government
Lockbox #979088, SL-MO-C2-GL, 1005 Convention Plaza, St. Louis, MO
63101. Payment[s] by wire transfer may be made to ABA Number
021030004, receiving bank TREAS/NYC, and account number 27000001. For
payment by credit card, an FCC Form 159 (Remittance Advice) must be
submitted. When completing the FCC Form 159, enter the NAL/Account
number in block number 23A (call sign/other ID), and enter the letters
"FORF" in block number 24A (payment type code). Requests for full
payment under an installment plan should be sent to: Chief Financial
Officer -- Financial Operations, 445 12th Street, S.W., Room 1-A625,
Washington, D.C. 20554. Please contact the Financial Operations
Group Help Desk at 1-877-480-3201 or Email: ARINQUIRIES@fcc.gov with
any questions regarding payment procedures.
18. The response, if any, must be mailed to Federal Communications
Commission, Enforcement Bureau, Northeast Region, Chicago District
Office, 1550 North Northwest Hwy, Suite 306, Park Ridge, IL 60068,
within thirty (30) days from the release date of this Notice of
Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and must include the NAL/Acct. No.
referenced in the caption.
19. The Commission will not consider reducing or canceling a forfeiture in
response to a claim of inability to pay unless the petitioner submits:
(1) federal tax returns for the most recent three-year period; (2)
financial statements prepared according to generally accepted
accounting practices ("GAAP"); or (3) some other reliable and
objective documentation that accurately reflects the petitioner's
current financial status. AWI claim of inability to pay must
specifically identify the basis for the claim by reference to the
financial documentation submitted.
20. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Notice of Apparent Liability
for Forfeiture shall be sent by Certified Mail, Return Receipt
Requested, and regular mail, to Sparta-Tomah Broadcasting. Inc. at its
address of record.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
James M. Roop
Chicago District Office
47 C.F.R. S:S: 73.1745(a), and 73.1125(a)
We note that the location of Sparta's headquarters, i.e., 113 West Oak
Street, Sparta, Wisconsin, is not within WFBZ's community of license, is
not within WFBZ's principal contour, and is not within twenty-five miles
of the reference coordinates of Trempealeau, which is the community of
license for WFBZ. Thus, under the Commission's main studio requirements,
this location is not eligible to be the main studio for WFBZ. See 47
C.F.R. S: 73.1125(a).
Section 312(f)(1) of the Act, 47 U.S.C. S: 312(f)(1), which applies to
violations for which forfeitures are assessed under Section 503(b) of the
Act, provides that "[t]he term `willful', when used with reference to the
commission or omission of any act, means the conscious and deliberate
commission or omission of such act, irrespective of any intent to violate
any provision of this Act or any rule or regulation of the Commission
authorized by this Act...." See Southern California Broadcasting Co., 6
FCC Rcd 4387 (1991).
Section 312(f)(2) of the Act, 47 U.S.C. S: 312(f)(2), which also applies
to violations for which forfeitures are assessed under Section 503(b) of
the Act, provides that "[t]he term `repeated', when used with reference to
the commission or omission of any act, means the commission or omission of
such act more than once or, if such commission or omission is continuous,
for more than one day."
47 C.F.R. S: 73.1745(a).
Main Studio and Program Origination Rules, Memorandum Opinion and Order,
3 FCC Rcd 5024, 5026 (1988).
Jones Eastern of the Outer Banks, Inc., 7 FCC Rcd 6800, 6802 (1992).
12 FCC Rcd 17087 (1997), recon. denied, 15 FCC Rcd 303 (1999); 47 C.F.R.
47 U.S.C. S: 503(b)(2)(D).
47 C.F.R. S:S: 0.111, 0.311, 1.80, 73.1745(a), and 73.1125(a).
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Federal Communications Commission
Federal Communications Commission