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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
MAPA Broadcasting, L.L.C. ) File No. EB-01-OR-138
WSLA(AM) ) NAL/Acct. No. 200132620005
Slidell, Louisiana ) FRN 0005-0234-60
Adopted: December 17, 2001 Released: December 19,
By the Chief, Enforcement Bureau:
1. In this Forfeiture Order (``Order''), we issue a
monetary forfeiture in the amount of two thousand five hundred
dollars ($2,500) to MAPA Broadcasting, L.L.C. (``MAPA''),
licensee of Station WSLA(AM), Slidell, Louisiana, for willful
violations of Sections 11.35(a) and 73.49 of the Commission's
Rules (``Rules'').1 The noted violations involve MAPA's
failure to install operational Emergency Alert System
(``EAS'') equipment at WSLA(AM) and its failure to enclose
WSLA(AM)'s antenna tower within an effective locked fence or
2. On July 24, 2001, the Commission's New Orleans,
Louisiana, Field Office (``New Orleans Office'') issued a
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (``NAL'') to MAPA
for a forfeiture in the amount of fifteen thousand dollars
($15,000).2 MAPA filed a response to the NAL on September 10,
3. On March 14, 2001, agents from the New Orleans Office
inspected WSLA(AM). During the inspection, the agents
determined that no EAS equipment was installed. In addition,
the agents observed that the gate to the fence surrounding
WSLA(AM)'s antenna tower was unlocked. The agents further
observed that, although WSLA(AM)'s antenna tower was grounded
at the base, the antenna included a ``skirt'' surrounding the
tower. The ``skirt'' had radio frequency potential and was
within reach from the ground near the base of the tower.
4. On April 26, 2001, the New Orleans Office issued a
Notice of Violation (``NOV'') citing MAPA for violations of
Sections 11.35(a) and 73.49. On May 14 and May 21, 2001, MAPA
submitted responses to the NOV stating that it had ordered EAS
equipment and locked the tower gate.
5. On July 24, 2001, the New Orleans Office issued the
subject NAL to MAPA for failure to install operational EAS
equipment in willful violation of Section 11.35(a) of the
Rules and failure to enclose the AM antenna tower within an
effective locked fence or other enclosure in willful violation
of Section 73.49 of the Rules.
6. On September 10, 2001, the Commission received MAPA's
response to the NAL. In its response, MAPA argues that if
there were any violations, they were not willful. MAPA states
that at the time of the inspection, the gate to the fence
surrounding the tower was left ``temporarily unlocked'' by the
yard maintenance person, despite being cautioned not to leave
the gate open. MAPA also argues that the tower is located
behind its building, and that ``no improved areas are
adjacent, just forest/swamp.'' MAPA admits that with the gate
open, an adult could enter the enclosure, touch the lead wire
to the antenna harness and receive a skin burn. MAPA adds
that this has never happened at the station. In addition,
MAPA indicates that at the time of the inspection, the station
had a ``modified EBS unit with an AM tuner'' which allowed
reception of EAS transmissions, but not transmitting
functions. MAPA states that all EAS advisories are posted in
the control room and the station logs include EBS logging.
MAPA asserts that in 1998, an agent from the New Orleans
Office conducted an ``EAS Equipment Inspection'' at WSLA(AM),
and that it never received communication concerning its
equipment. Thus, MAPA assumed its equipment was acceptable.
Further, MAPA claims that upon receiving the NOV, it obtained
a cost estimate for an EAS unit. MAPA claims that the company
that provided it with a cost estimate also stated that future
EAS developments may result in new equipment being required,
and in light of MAPA's financial condition, it chose to seek
guidance from the Commission. MAPA states that after reading
various trade publications, it is in a ``state of some
confusion'' as to the development of EAS. Finally, MAPA
appears to seek reduction of the forfeiture amount, on the
basis that that payment of the forfeiture would result in a
financial hardship for the station.
7. The forfeiture amount in this case was assessed in
accordance with Section 503(b) of the Communications Act of
1934, as amended (``Act''),3 Section 1.80 of the Rules,4 and
The Commission's Forfeiture Policy Statement and Amendment of
Section 1.80 of the Rules to Incorporate the Forfeiture
Guidelines, 12 FCC Rcd 17087 (1997), recon. denied, 15 FCC Rcd
303 (1999) (``Policy Statement''). In examining MAPA's
response, Section 503(b) of the Act requires that the
Commission take into account 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
8. Section 11.35(a) of the Rules requires that broadcast
stations install EAS encoders, EAS decoders and attention
signal generating and receiving equipment so that the
monitoring and transmitting functions are available during the
times the stations are in operation. Section 73.49 of the
Rules provides that AM antenna towers having radio frequency
potential at the base must be enclosed within effective locked
fences or other enclosures. MAPA argues that the violations,
if any, were not willful. We disagree. Section 312(f)(1) of
the Act provides that ``the term `willful,' when used with
reference to the commission or omission of any act, means the
conscious or 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 ....''6 This
definition applies to the term ``willful'' as used in Section
503(b) of the Act. See Southern California Broadcasting Co.,
6 FCC Rcd 4387 (1991). We therefore conclude that the
violations were willful. MAPA states that the gate to the
fence was ``temporarily unlocked'' and that no improved areas
are adjacent to the tower. Neither of these statements have
any bearing on the fact that the gate to the fence was
unlocked at the time of the inspection. Section 73.49
requires the fence to be locked.
9. Moreover, MAPA's use of a ``modified EBS unit with an
AM tuner'' does not comply with Section 11.35(a) of the Rules,
which requires stations to install EAS encoders, EAS decoders
and attention signal generating and receiving equipment. With
respect to MAPA's claim that it was unclear as to the
Commission's EAS requirements, this does not warrant a
reduction of the forfeiture amount. Commission licensees are
responsible for knowing and adhering to the statutes and rules
that apply to them. Lack of knowledge of those statutes and
rules is not sufficient justification for reducing a
forfeiture imposed for violating them. See Sitka Broadcasting
Company Inc., 70 FCC 2d 2375, 2378 (1979).
10. MAPA also argues that payment of the $15,000 forfeiture
would result in a financial hardship for the station and
provides tax returns for 1998, 1999 and 2000 in support of
this argument. Although other factors can be considered, the
Commission has held that a licensee's gross income is
generally the best indicator of its ability to pay a
forfeiture. See PJB Communications of Virginia, Inc., 7 FCC
Rcd 2088 (1992). In view of the gross revenues indicated by
MAPA's tax returns, we conclude that it is appropriate to
reduce the forfeiture amount from $15,000 to $2,500.
11. We have examined MAPA's response to the NAL pursuant to
the statutory factors above, and in conjunction with the
Policy Statement as well. As a result of our review, we
conclude that MAPA willfully violated Sections 11.35(a) and
73.49 of the Rules, but we reduce the forfeiture amount from
$15,000 to $2,500.
IV. ORDERING CLAUSES
12. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Section
503(b) of the Act, and Sections 0.111, 0.311 and 1.80(f)(4) of
the Rules,7 MAPA Broadcasting, L.L.C. IS LIABLE FOR A MONETARY
FORFEITURE in the amount of two thousand five hundred dollars
($2,500) for failure to install its EAS equipment so the
monitoring and transmitting functions are available in willful
violation of Section 11.35(a) of the Rules and failure to
enclose its AM antenna tower within an effective locked fence
in willful violation of Section 73.49 of the Rules.
13. Payment of the forfeiture shall be made in the manner
provided for in Section 1.80 of the Rules within 30 days of
the release of this Order. If the forfeiture is not paid
within the period specified, the case may be referred to the
Department of Justice for collection pursuant to Section
504(a) of the Act.8 Payment shall be made by mailing a check
or similar instrument, payable to the order of the Federal
Communications Commission, to the Federal Communications
Commission, P.O. Box 73482, Chicago, Illinois 60673-7482. The
payment should note the NAL/Acct. No. 200132620005, and the
FRN 0005-0234-60. Requests for full payment under an
installment plan should be sent to: Chief, Revenue and
Receivables Operations Group, 445 12th Street, S.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20554.9
14. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Order shall
be sent by Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested to MAPA
Broadcasting L.L.C., WSLA(AM), P.O. Box 1175, 38230 Coast
Blvd., Slidell, Louisiana, 70459.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
David H. Solomon
Chief, Enforcement Bureau
1 47 C.F.R. §§ 11.35(a) and 73.49.
2 Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, NAL/Acct. No.
200132620005 (Enf. Bur., New Orleans Office, released July 24,
3 47 U.S.C. § 503(b).
4 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.
5 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(D).
6 47 U.S.C. § 312(f)(1).
7 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.111, 0.311, 1.80(f)(4).
8 47 U.S.C. § 504(a).
9 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1914.