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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
WBLT, Inc. ) File Number EB-04-NF-042
Owner of Antenna Structure # ) NAL/Acct. No. 200532640001
1242296 ) FRN 0006362651
Bedford, VA )
Adopted: June 6, 2005
Released: June 8, 2005
By the Regional Director, South Central Region, Enforcement
1. In this Forfeiture Order (``Order''), we issue a
monetary forfeiture in the amount of three thousand dollars
($3,000) to WBLT, Inc. (``WBLT''), owner of an antenna
structure located at or near geographic coordinates 37º 20'
50.5'' N, 79º 31' 24'' W, Bedford, Virginia, for willful and
repeated violation of Section 17.4(a) of the Commission's
Rules (``Rules'').1 The noted violation involves WBLT's
failure to register its antenna structure.
2. WBLT acquired the license for AM station WBLT in
Bedford, Virginia on April 12, 2002. The license for the
previous licensee specified that the antenna structure
located at or near geographic coordinates 37º 20' 50.5'' N,
79º 31' 24'' W must be painted and lit. In response to
receiving information about WBLT failing to renew its
broadcast station license in a timely manner, an agent from
the Commission's Norfolk Office of the Enforcement Bureau
(``Norfolk Office'') conducted an inspection of the station
on February 27, 2004. During that inspection, the agent
observed that a registration number was not posted on the
antenna structure behind the station's studio, at or near
geographic coordinates 37º 20' 50.5'' N, 79º 31' 24'' W. On
February 27, 2004, the sole officer, director, and owner of
WBLT admitted that WBLT owned the antenna structure. He was
aware of the painting and lighting requirements for the
structure and had repaired the structure's lights in August
2003. He also provided a copy of a letter from the Federal
Aviation Administration dated February 12, 2004, which
stated that the antenna structure would not pose a hazard to
air navigation provided it was painted and lit. Finally, he
admitted that he had not registered the structure since WBLT
3. On February 25, 2005, the Norfolk Office issued a
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture to WBLT in the
amount of three thousand dollars ($3,000) for the apparent
willful and repeated violation of Section 17.4(a) of the
Rules.2 On March 2, 2005, WBLT submitted a response to the
NAL requesting a reduction of the proposed forfeiture.
4. The proposed forfeiture amount in this case was
assessed in accordance with Section 503(b) of the Act,3
Section 1.80 of the Commission's Rules (``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) (``Forfeiture Policy Statement''). In
examining WBLT'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 may require.5
5. Section 17.4(a) of the Rules states that the owner
of any proposed or existing antenna structure that requires
notice of proposed construction to the FAA must register the
structure with the Commission.6 WBLT admitted during the
inspection on February 27, 2004 and in its response that it
did not register its antenna structure prior to the agent's
inspection. On March 1, 2004, WBLT obtained registration
number 1242296 for its antenna structure. Thus, based on
the evidence, we find that WBLT willfully7 and repeatedly8
violated Section 17.4(a) of the Rules by failing to register
its antenna structure.
6. WBLT asserts the proposed forfeiture should be
reduced because it registered its antenna structure within
two days of the agent's inspection. However, corrective
action taken to come into compliance with the Rules is
expected, and does not nullify or mitigate any prior
forfeitures or violations.9 Further, we note that WBLT was
required to register its tower when it acquired the tower in
2002. WBLT also requests a reduction, because it believes
it is irrational to impose the same forfeiture on small and
large violators for a particular violation. WBLT, however,
explicitly states that it does not seek a reduction based on
inability to pay. Assessing forfeitures based on Section
503(b) of the Act, Section 1.80 of the Rules and the
Forfeiture Policy Statement is rational, because it imposes
a consistent, fair, and predictable system for entities that
do business with the Commission. We do not find it
appropriate to reduce a forfeiture simply because WBLT
claims it is a ``relatively minimal operation.'' Finally,
we reject WBLT's request to reduce the proposed forfeiture
based on its history of compliance with the Rules.
According to Commission records, WBLT failed to submit a
license renewal application in a timely fashion during the
renewal cycle, e.g., prior to October 1, 2003, in apparent
violation of Section 73.3539 of the Rules. WBLT submitted
its license renewal application after it was contacted by
the Media Bureau that its license had expired. Accordingly,
we conclude that WBLT does not have a history of compliance
with the Rules and is not entitled to receive a reduction on
7. We have examined WBLT's response to the NAL
pursuant to the statutory factors above, and in conjunction
with the Forfeiture Policy Statement. As a result of our
review, we conclude that WBLT willfully and repeatedly
violated Section 17.4(a) of the Rules. We find no basis for
cancellation or reduction of the $3,000 forfeiture proposed
for these violations.
IV. ORDERING CLAUSES
8. 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(f)(4) of the
Commission's Rules,10 WBLT, Inc. IS LIABLE FOR A MONETARY
FORFEITURE in the amount of three thousand hundred dollars
($3,000) for willfully and repeatedly violating Section
17.4(a) of the Rules.
9. 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.11 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/Acct. No. and FRN No. referenced above.
Payment by check or money order may be mailed to Federal
Communications Commission, P.O. Box 358340, Pittsburgh, PA
15251-8340. Payment by overnight mail may be sent to Mellon
Bank /LB 358340, 500 Ross Street, Room 1540670, Pittsburgh,
PA 15251. Payment by wire transfer may be made to ABA
Number 043000261, receiving bank Mellon Bank, and account
number 911-6106. Requests for full payment under an
installment plan should be sent to: Chief, Revenue and
Receivables Group, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C.
10. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Order
shall be sent by First Class and Certified Mail Return
Receipt Requested to WBLT, Inc. at its address of record and
its counsel, Peter Gutmann, Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge &
Rice, PLLC, 1401 Eye Street, NW, Seventh Floor, Washington,
Dennis P. Carlton
Regional Director, South
147 C.F.R. § 17.4(a).
2Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, NAL/Acct. No.
200532640001 (Enf. Bur., Norfolk Office, February 25, 2005)
347 U.S.C. § 503(b).
447 C.F.R. § 1.80.
547 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(D).
647 C.F.R. § 17.4(a).
7Section 312(f)(1) of the Act, 47 U.S.C. § 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,' ... 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
8The 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 U.S.C. § 312(f)(2).
9See Seawest Yacht Brokers, Forfeiture Order, 9 FCC Rcd
1047 C.F.R. §§ 0.111, 0.311, 1.80(f)(4).
1147 U.S.C. § 504(a).
12See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1914.