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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
Snow Hill Broadcasting, L.L.C. ) File No. EB-04-CF-138
Licensee of WQMR ) NAL/Acct. No. 200432340005
Snow Hill, Maryland ) FRN: 0007340201
Adopted: August 30, 2005 Released:
September 1, 2005
By the Regional Director, Northeast Region, Enforcement
1. In this Forfeiture Order (``Order''), we issue a
monetary forfeiture in the amount of four thousand dollars
($4,000) to Snow Hill Broadcasting, L.L.C. (``Snow
Hill''), licensee of station WQMR, Snow Hill, Maryland,
for willful and repeated violations of Sections
73.3526(e)(6), 73.3526(e)(8), 73.3526(e)(9), and
73.3526(e)(12) of the Commission's Rules ("Rules").1 The
noted violations concern Snow Hill's failure to retain in
its public inspection file a political file, ``The Public
and Broadcasting'' manual, a file of letters and e-mail
from the public, and a file with quarterly issues/programs
lists for the year 2003.
2. On March 19, 2004, agents from the Commission's
Columbia, Maryland Office (``Columbia Office'') inspected
radio station WQMR in Snow Hill, Maryland, for compliance
with FCC Rules. At the time of the inspection, the agents
observed that the station operated in violation of several
public inspection file rules. The agents noted that the
public inspection file did not include a political file,
the most recent copy of ``The Public and Broadcasting''
manual, a file with letters and e-mail from the public,
and copies of the quarterly issues/programs lists for
3. On March 26, 2004, the Columbia Office issued a
letter of inquiry to the owners of WQMR in order to gather
additional information regarding the operation of the
station and the retention of the required documentation in
the public inspection file. By letter dated April 14,
2004, the managing partner of Maryland Star, L.L.C., John
P. Gillen (``Gillen''), responded to the letter of
inquiry.2 Gillen confirmed that the public inspection file
had ``been incomplete for at least the past 6 months.''
Further, Gillen outlined steps taken by Snow Hill to
correct violations brought to its attention in the letter
4. On September 2, 2004, the Commission's Columbia
Office issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for
Forfeiture (``NAL'') to Snow Hill for a forfeiture in the
amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000). Snow Hill filed
a response to the NAL on October 5, 2004 seeking a
reduction in the forfeiture amount and requesting
additional time to submit financial statements. Snow Hill
does not dispute the stated deficiencies in the public
file, but rather seeks a reduction on the grounds that the
omission of the items from the public file was
unintentional, it has taken appropriate remedial measures,
the forfeiture amount is excessive given the nature of the
violation, and payment of the forfeiture would impose a
substantial financial hardship. Snow Hill submitted
financial statements in supplements filed on November 4,
2004, March 28, 2005, and April 20, 2005.
5. The forfeiture amount proposed 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.5 In assessing
forfeitures, Section 503(b)(2)(D) of the Act requires that
we 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 such other matters as
justice may require.6 As discussed below, we have
considered Snow Hill's response to the NAL in light of
these statutory factors and have found that reduction of
the proposed forfeiture amount from $10,000 to $4,000 is
6. We first address Snow Hill's claim that the
forfeiture amount should be reduced because the violation
was unintentional. Snow Hill states in its response to
the NAL that its officials were unaware that these items
were missing, and the failure to maintain the public file
was due to inadequate supervision of employees. For a
violation to be willful, it must be committed consciously
and deliberately, irrespective of any intent to violate
the Rules.7 It is therefore irrelevant whether Snow Hill
intended to violate the public file rules. Snow Hill, as
the licensee of WQMR, is responsible for maintaining the
public file and ensuring that its employees maintain the
public file in accordance with Commission rules and it
failed to do so. We find that Snow Hill willfully
violated the public file rules and therefore a reduction
of the forfeiture amount on this basis is not warranted.8
7. We likewise decline to reduce the forfeiture based
on Snow Hill's remedial efforts since the time of the
inspection. Snow Hill states in its response to the NAL
that the public file has been updated and complies with
all applicable rules. Snow Hill also states that it has
taken steps to prevent such violations from reoccurring.
These remedial efforts by Snow Hill do not warrant a
reduction or cancellation in the forfeiture. As the
Commission has stated, ``corrective action taken to come
into compliance with Commission rules or policy is
expected, and does not nullify or mitigate any prior
forfeitures or violations.''9
8. Based on our review of the financial
documentation, Snow Hill is not entitled to a reduction
based on an inability to pay. We agree with Snow Hill,
however, that the proposed forfeiture of $10,000 is in
excess of the amount assessed in the past for similar
public file violations. We therefore reduce the
forfeiture to $4000 because the public file was partially
IV. ORDERING CLAUSES
9. 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,11 Snow Hill Broadcasting, L.L.C.,
IS LIABLE FOR A MONETARY FORFEITURE in the amount of four
thousand dollars ($4,000) for willful and repeated
violations of 73.3526(e)(6), 73.3526(e)(8), 73.3526(e)(9),
and 73.3526(e)(12) of the Rules.
10. Payment of the forfeiture shall be made in
the manner provided for in Section 1.80 of the Rules
within thirty (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.12
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.
11. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this
Order shall be sent by First Class and Certified Mail
Return Receipt Requested to Snow Hill Broadcasting, L.L.C.
at its address of record.
Russell Monie, Jr.
Regional Director, Northeast
147 C.F.R. § § 73.3526(e)(6), 73.3526(e)(8), 73.3526(e)(9)
2As of May 21, 2004, Maryland Star, L.L.C. has a 100%
attributable interest in Snow Hill.
347 U.S.C. § 503(b).
447 C.F.R. § 1.80.
512 FCC Rcd 17087 (1997), recon. denied, 15 FCC Rcd 303
(1999) (``Forfeiture Policy Statement'').
647 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(D).
7Section 312(f)(1) of the Act, 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 (1991).
8We note that, in his response to the NAL, Mr. Gillen
stated that the ``file has been incomplete for at least 6
months.'' The violation therefore is repeated and we need
not even show willful. See Section 503(b)(1) of the Act,
47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(1) (violator liable for forfeiture if
violation is willful or repeated).
9See Seawest Yacht Brokers, 9 FCC Rcd 6099 (1994).
10See e.g., Twenty-One Sound Communications, Inc.,
Forfeiture Order, DA 05-2065 (rel. July 27, 2005).
1147 C.F.R. §§ 0.111, 0.311, 1.80(f)(4).
1247 U.S.C. § 504(a).