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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of ) File No. EB -01-IH-0400
Clear Channel Broadcasting Licenses, Inc. ) NAL/Acct.
Licensee of Station WGBF (FM) ) FRN 0001-5879-71
Henderson, Kentucky ) Facility ID No. 659
NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY FOR FORFEITURE
Adopted: March 28, 2002 Released: March 29,
By the Chief, Enforcement Bureau:
1. In this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture
("NAL"), we find that Clear Channel Broadcasting Licenses,
Inc., (``Clear Channel'') has apparently violated Section
73.1206 of the Commission's rules1 by broadcasting a live
telephone conversation without first informing the party to
the conversation of its intention to do so. Based on our
review of the facts and circumstances in this case, we
conclude that Clear Channel is apparently liable for a
forfeiture in the amount of six thousand dollars ($6,000).
2. On June 11, 2001, Craig Jackson Shell, an announcer
on WSTO (FM), Owensboro, Kentucky, submitted a complaint
alleging that Station WGBF (FM), Henderson, Kentucky,
violated Section 73.1206 of the Commission's rules. Mr.
Shell alleged that WGBF-FM's station announcer Turner Watson
(``Watson'') called him during his WSTO (FM) airshift, and
recorded and later broadcast edited portions of their
conversation for the purpose of ridiculing him. Mr. Shell
included a tape of the broadcast with his complaint.
According to the complaint, Mr. Watson never informed Mr.
Shell of WGBF-FM's intent to record or broadcast their
3. In response to a Commission letter of inquiry,2
Clear Channel Broadcasting Licenses, Inc. (``Clear
Channel''), the licensee of WGBF (FM), admitted that during
the afternoon of May 22, 2001, Mr. Watson placed a telephone
call to the request line telephone number for WSTO and
identified himself. Mr. Shell answered the call and engaged
in a conversation with Mr. Watson.
4. Clear Channel admits that Mr. Watson recorded the
telephone conversation and broadcast it on the air, yet did
not inform Mr. Shell of his intention to broadcast the
conversation prior to its airing.
5. According to the licensee, Clear Channel has a
strict policy that a telephone conversation may not be
recorded for later broadcast or broadcast live without first
obtaining the caller's consent. Clear Channel contends that
this policy is not only included in the WGBF on-air policy
manual, but also communicated to the WGBF staff periodically
by the station's general manager.
6. Section 73.1206 of the Commission's rules provides
that, before recording a telephone conversation for
broadcast, or broadcasting such a conversation
simultaneously with its occurrence, a licensee shall inform
any party to the call of its intention to broadcast the
conversation, except where such party is aware, or may be
presumed to be aware from the circumstances of the
conversation, that it is being or likely will be broadcast.3
The Commission has stated, ``...we believe that there is a
legitimate expectation of privacy that telephone calls will
not be broadcast without the consent of the parties
involved.'' In the Matter of Amendment of Section 1206:
Broadcast of Telephone Conversations, 3 FCC Rcd 5461, 5463
7. In this case, we find that Clear Channel apparently
violated Section 73.1206 of the Commission's rules by
broadcasting Mr. Shell's conversation without giving him
prior notice of its intent to broadcast such conversation.
8. Section 503(b) of the Communications Act of 1934,
as amended,4 and Section 1.80(a) of the Commission's rules,5
each provide that any person who willfully or repeatedly
fails to comply with the provisions of the Communications
Act or the Commission's rules shall be liable for a
forfeiture penalty. For purposes of Section 503(b) of the
Communications Act, the term ``willful'' means that the
violator knew it was taking the action in question,
irrespective of any intent to violate the Commission's
rules. See Southern California Broadcasting Co., 6 FCC Rcd
4387, 4387-88 (1991).
9. Based on the evidence before us, we find that Clear
Channel broadcast a conversation on May 22, 2001, in
apparent willful violation of Section 73.1206 of the
Commission's rules. The Commission's Forfeiture Policy
Statement sets a base forfeiture amount of $4,000 for the
unauthorized broadcast of a telephone conversation. The
Commission's Forfeiture Policy Statement and Amendment of
Section 1.80 of the Commission's Rules, 12 FCC Rcd 17087
(1997), recon. denied 15 FCC Rcd 303 (1999). We note that,
at the time of this violation, we had recently sanctioned a
Clear Channel subsidiary for a similar violation.6 We find
an upward adjustment is appropriate in this instance. Based
upon these facts and considering all of the circumstances
present here, we find $6,000 to be the appropriate
IV. ORDERING CLAUSES
10. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED THAT, pursuant to
Section 503(b) of the Communications Act of 1934,7 as
amended, and Section 1.80 of the Commission's rules,8 Clear
Channel is hereby NOTIFIED of its APPARENT LIABILITY FOR A
FORFEITURE in the amount of six thousand dollars ($6,000)
for violating Section 73.1206 of the Commission's rules,
which prohibits broadcasters from airing telephone
conversations without first informing the parties to such
conversations of their intention to do so.
11. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT, pursuant to Section
1.80 of the Commission's rules,9 within thirty days of this
NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY, Clear Channel SHALL PAY the
full amount of the proposed forfeiture or SHALL FILE a
written statement seeking reduction or cancellation of the
12. Payment of the forfeiture may be made by
mailing a check or similar instrument, payable to the order
of the Federal Communications Commission, to Forfeiture
Collection Section, Finance Branch, Federal Communications
Commission, P.O. Box 73482, Chicago, Illinois 60673-7482.
The payment MUST INCLUDE the FCC Registration number (FRN)
referenced above and also must note the NAL/Acct. No.
13. The response, if any, must be mailed to Charles W.
Kelley, Chief, Investigations and Hearings Division,
Enforcement Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, 445
12th Street, S.W, Room 3-B443, Washington, D.C. 20554 and
MUST INCLUDE THE NAL/Acct. No. referenced above.
14. The Commission will not consider reducing or
canceling a forfeiture in response to a claim of inability
to pay unless the respondent 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
respondent's current financial status. Any claim of
inability to pay must specifically identify the basis for
the claim by reference to the financial documentation
15. Requests for payment of the full amount of this
Notice of Apparent Liability under an installment plan
should be sent to: Chief, Revenue and Receivables Operations
Group, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20554.10
16. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT a copy of this NOTICE
OF APPARENT LIABILITY shall be sent by Certified Mail Return
Receipt Requested to counsel for Clear Channel, attn: Eve J.
Klindera, Esquire, Wiley Rein & Fielding LLP, 1776 K Street
N.W., Washington, DC 20006.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
David H. Solomon
Chief, Enforcement Bureau
1 47 C.F.R. § 73.1206.
2 Letter from Charles W. Kelley, Chief, Investigations and
Hearings Division, Enforcement Bureau, to Clear Channel
Broadcasting Licenses, Inc., dated June 28, 2001.
3 47 C.F.R. § 73.1206.
4 47 U.S.C. § 503 (b).
5 47 C.F.R. § 1.80 (a).
6 Citicasters Co., 15 FCC Rcd 13805 (EB 2000) (forfeiture
paid) (Citicasters Co., a Clear Channel subsidiary, found
apparently liable for the broadcast of a conversation
between the complainant in that case and another person,
which was taken from that complainant's answering machine.).
See also AMFM Radio Licenses, LLC, DA No. 02-622 (EB
released March 19, 2002)(AMFM Radio Licenses, LLC, a Clear
Channel subsidiary, found apparently liable for a violation
of Section 73.1206 of the Commission's rules).
7 47 U.S.C. § 503.
8 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.
10 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1914.