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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
Rama Communications, Inc. ) File No.: EB-02-TP-550
Licensee of Radio Station WLAA (AM) ) NAL/Acct. No. 200432700011
Winter Garden, Florida ) FRN 0005-0080-16
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Adopted: January 26, 2007 Released: January 30, 2007
By the Assistant Chief, Enforcement Bureau:
1. In this Memorandum Opinion and Order ("Order") we deny the petition
for reconsideration filed by Rama Communications, Inc. ("Rama"),
licensee of Station WLAA(AM), Winter Garden, Florida. Rama seeks
reconsideration of the Forfeiture Order in which the Enforcement
Bureau ("Bureau") found Rama liable for a monetary forfeiture in the
amount of eighteen thousand dollars ($18,000), for willful and
repeated violations of Sections 11.35(a) and 73.3526(c)(1) of the
Commission's Rules ("Rules"). The noted violations involve Rama's
failure to ensure operational Emergency Alert System ("EAS")
equipment, and its failure to make available a complete public file.
We reject Rama's arguments and therefore affirm the assessment of a
forfeiture of $18,000.
2. On March 5, 2004, the Commission's Tampa, Florida Field Office ("Tampa
Office") issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture ("NAL")
in the amount of $18,000 to Rama for apparent willful and repeated
violations of Sections 11.35(a) ($8,000) and 73.3526(c)(1) of the
Rules ($10,000). Rama filed a response to the NAL on April 5, 2004,
seeking elimination or a reduction of the forfeiture, arguing that the
violations were technical and unintentional in nature. On December 23,
2004, the Bureau issued a Forfeiture Order, which imposed a monetary
forfeiture in the amount of $18,000 to Rama, and which found the
violations to be willful and repeated. Rama subsequently filed a
petition for reconsideration ("petition") of the Forfeiture Order,
again asking for cancellation or reduction of the forfeiture. Rama
claims that WLAA's EAS system was functioning, and that WLAA's public
inspection file was available at the inspection. Rama also asks
permission to pay any monetary forfeiture on an installment plan.
A. Violation of Section 11.35(a) of the Rules
3. Section 11.35(a) of the Rules requires that broadcast stations ensure
that EAS generating and receiving equipment is installed so that the
monitoring and transmitting functions are available during times that
stations and systems are in operation. Additionally, stations are
required to determine the cause of any failure to receive the required
tests, and to make appropriate entries in the station's logs
indicating the reasons why any tests were not received or transmitted.
According to the NAL, on June 13, 2003, agents from the Commission's
Tampa Office inspected WLAA, and during the inspection observed that
EAS tests conducted by station personnel over co-located and co-owned
Station WOKB(AM) failed to be transmitted over WLAA. Also, the agents'
review of the station logs showed no entries of EAS tests since
December 30, 2002. Further, the logs contained no entries showing the
EAS equipment had been removed for repairs. The Forfeiture Order found
that Rama failed to maintain its EAS equipment so that the monitoring
and transmitting functions are available during the station's
operating hours, in willful and repeated violation of Section 11.35(a)
of the Rules.
4. Rama contends that the violation should be cancelled or the forfeiture
reduced because Rama was in compliance with Section 11.35(a) of the
Rules. Rama operates two stations, WOKB and WLAA, and uses the same
EAS unit for both stations. Rama's chief engineer submitted a
statement with Rama's response to the NAL which addressed several of
the alleged violations. He explained that he was in charge of
installing new studios for the radio stations' relocation, and that in
the process of the installation, he inadvertently cut or disconnected
some of the audio wiring. He stated that, as a result, the signal for
the EAS for WLAA was faint. The engineer stated he rewired the EAS
equipment after the inspection to make it easier to hear. In its
response to the NAL, Rama claimed that although the signal was weak,
it did exist. Also, instead of having an EAS log book for each
station, Rama had one EAS log book for both WOKB and WLAA, but
denominated it as WOKB only. Rama recognized this as an error and
stated in its response that the log book should have been marked to
reflect that it contained EAS records for both stations. The
Forfeiture Order rejected Rama's arguments and determined that the
equipment was not operational.
5. In its petition, Rama submits no new evidence. Instead, it argues
again that because its engineer reported hearing a faint signal during
the inspection, the EAS equipment therefore was operational. We reject
this argument, due to the conflicting evidence observed by Commission
agents reported in the NAL and affirmed in the Forfeiture Order, that
the EAS equipment was twice tested during the inspection, and the
tests "failed to be transmitted over WLAA." Further, we caution Rama
that it should properly label its log book to reflect that it
maintains one EAS log book for both its stations, WOKB and WLAA.
Accordingly, we deny Rama's request for reconsideration of this
violation and affirm the issuance of the monetary forfeiture of
B. Violation of Section 73.3526(c)(1)
6. Section 73.3526(c)(1) of the Rules requires that AM and FM broadcast
stations maintain a public inspection file containing the material,
relating to that station, as described in that section, which must be
available for public inspection at any time during business hours. The
Commission has found that reasonable access to the public inspection
file serves the important purpose of facilitating a citizen's
monitoring of a station's operations and public interest performance,
and fostering community involvement with local stations. This
requirement helps to ensure that stations are responsive to the needs
and interests of their local communities. As noted in the NAL and
affirmed in the Forfeiture Order, WLAA could not produce many of the
required documents at the first inspection, and at the second
inspection on July 25, 2003, the entire file was unavailable at the
station's main studio. Instead, there was a notation at the main
studio that the file was located at its new address in Orlando,
7. Rama contends that it maintains a public file, but in its response to
the NAL acknowledged that items were missing from the file and that
the public inspection file was not at the studio and had been
relocated to its new offices. In its petition, Rama adds that two of
the missing documents were "inadvertently stapled to the back of the
License Renewal Application," and that two more of the missing
documents were "corrected by the Station Manager." Rama criticizes the
inspectors during the second inspection for narrowly interpreting
Section 73.3526(b) of the Rules, by ignoring the fact that Rama was
moving its offices and that it had noted by a sign where the public
file was located. Rama cites two NAL cases, Church Point Ministries,
Inc., and Jason Konarz wherein the Bureau reduced the forfeiture in
both cases because the licensees made a portion of the public file
available for inspection.
8. Although Rama has supplied new information in its petition that two of
the missing seven documents actually were available for the first
inspection, and that two more were added later by the Station Manager,
this new information does not change the fact that Rama did not have
the public inspection file accessible at the first inspection as
required by Section 73.3526(c)(1) of the Rules. This case is
distinguishable from the first case Rama cites, Church Point
Ministries, which concerned an alleged violation of a different
section of the Rules, Section 73.3526(a)(2) (emphasis added),
generally outlining the materials that should be included in a
commercial station's public inspection file as described in other
subparts of Section 73.3526. Church Point Ministries was unable to
locate any of the required materials during the inspection; the
documents were found later at the station, and thus presumably had
been present at the first inspection. The Bureau reasoned that because
many of the missing documents in question were available, but were not
assembled, the forfeiture should be reduced from the base forfeiture
amount for such violations to $5,000. Jason Konarz involved the same
rule section violation as in Rama. There, the Bureau reduced the
proposed forfeiture for the public file violation from $10,000 to
$8,000 because the station had some of the required items in the
public inspection file. In the instant case, most of the documents
simply were not included in the station's public inspection file.
Thus, a complete file was not available for inspection in violation of
Section 73.3526(c)(1). With respect to corrective efforts by Rama, the
Forfeiture Order correctly pointed out that such corrective action
does not nullify or mitigate any prior forfeitures or violations.
9. Moreover, while there have been a few instances when the Commission
has reduced the forfeiture amount for a licensee's apparent good faith
attempts to comply with Section 73.3526(c)(1), like Jason Konarz, the
greater weight of the case law reflects that the forfeiture was not
reduced in similar circumstances. Rama has admitted that most of the
missing documents were not shown to the FCC inspectors during the
first inspection, and even if the inspectors had found the file at the
new location, the file was still incomplete. Thus, based on the
evidence, we find that Rama willfully and repeatedly violated Section
73.3526(c)(1) of the Rules by failing to make available a complete
public inspection file. Rama's request to cancel or reduce the
forfeiture amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) imposed for a
violation of Section 73.3526(c)(1) is thereby denied.
C. Request for Payment Plan
10. Finally, Rama contends that the imposition of an $18,000 fine would
put undue hardship on the company and that if the forfeiture is not
cancelled, it has asked for a payment plan, also stating that it can
provide tax information to the Commission upon request. Requests for
full payment under an installment plan should be sent to: Associate
Managing Director - Financial Operations, 445 12^th Street, S.W., Room
1A625, Washington, D.C. 20554.
11. We have examined Rama's Petition for Reconsideration pursuant to the
statutory factors above, and in conjunction with The Commission's
Forfeiture Policy Statement and Amendment of Section 1.80 of the Rules
to Incorporate the Forfeiture Guidelines. In examining Rama's
petition, Section 503(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended
("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 such other matters as justice may
12. As a result of our review, we conclude that Rama willfully and
repeatedly violated Sections 11.35(a) and 73.3526(c)(1) of the Rules
and find no basis for reducing or eliminating the $18,000 forfeiture.
IV. ORDERING CLAUSES
13. ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 405 of the Act,
and Section 1.106 of the Rules, Rama's petition for reconsideration of
the Bureau Forfeiture Order IS DENIED.
14. 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. 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. As noted
above, requests for payment of the full amount of the NAL under an
installment plan should be sent to: Associate Managing Director -
Financial Operations, 445 12^th Street, S.W., Room 1A625, Washington,
15. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT a copy of this Order shall be sent by first
class mail and certified mail, return receipt requested, to John C.
Trent, counsel for Rama Communications, Inc., Putbrese, Hunsaker &
Trent, P.C., 200 S. Church Street, Woodstock, Virginia 22664. A copy
also will be sent to Rama Communications, Inc., 3765 N. John Young
Parkway, Orlando, Florida 32804.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
George R. Dillon
Assistant Chief, Enforcement Bureau
Rama Communications, Inc., 19 FCC Rcd. 24802 (Enf. Bur. 2004).
47 C.F.R. SS 11.35(a) and 73.3526(c)(1).
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, NAL/Acct. No. 200432700011
(Enf. Bur., Tampa Office, rel. March 5, 2004).
Letter to the Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission,
from Sabetta Persuad, President, Rama Communications, Inc. (Apr. 5, 2004)
Petition for Reconsideration, Rama Communications, Inc. (filed Jan. 24,
NAL at P 3. The NAL stated that station personnel twice attempted to
perform the EAS testing.
Notarized letter from Steven L. Delay, Chief Engineer, Rama
Communications, to the Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications
Commission (Apr. 5, 2004).
It should be noted that although the agents found that the station logs
showed no entries of EAS tests for WLAA since December 30, 2002, Rama was
not charged in the NAL with a violation of Section 11.61 of the Rules, 47
C.F.R. S 11.61, for what was believed to be an apparent failure to test
the EAS equipment.
Rama again argues that its logging error resulted from its failure to
properly label the combined log for WOKB and WLAA. Petition at P 8. We do
not dispute this contention (see note 10, infra), and point out that the
forfeiture amount specified for the violation of Section 11.35(a) in the
NAL was based on the finding by the Tampa Office that Rama failed to
maintain operational EAS equipment. See NAL at P 8. As such, though noted,
the failure to log the tests had no impact on the forfeiture amount, as
alleged in the petition, for the violation of Section 11.35(a).
Forfeiture Order at 24802. See also, NAL at P 3.
Review of the Commission's Rules regarding the Main Studio Rule and Local
Public Inspection Files of Broadcast Television and Radio Stations, 13 FCC
Rcd 15691, 15700 (1998). See also, Union Broadcasting, Inc., 19 FCC Rcd.
18588, 185890 (Enf. Bur. 2004).
Response at 2. See also, Forfeiture Order at 24804.
Petition at P 11.
47 C.F.R. S 73.3526(b). Section 73.3526(b) of the Rules requires that the
public file be kept at the main studio; an applicant for a change of
community must maintain the file at an accessible place in the proposed
community or at its proposed main studio. The Bureau did not cite Rama for
a violation of Section 73.3526(b).
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, NAL/Acct. No. X3262008 (Enf.
Bur., New Orleans, Louisiana Field Office, rel. Aug. 21, 2000) ("Church
Point Ministries") (proposed forfeiture amount specified $5,000 instead of
$10,000 base forfeiture amount for public file violations).
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, NAL/Acct. No. 200432620004
(Enf. Bur., New Orleans, Louisiana Field Office, rel. July 21, 2004)
("Jason Konarz") (proposed forfeiture amount specified for $8,000 instead
of $10,000 base forfeiture amount for public file violations); forfeiture
ordered, 19 FCC Rcd. 19562 (Enf. Bur. 2004) (affirmed NAL based on
Konarz's failure to file a response to the NAL).
47 C.F.R. S 73.3526(a)(2).
Forfeiture Order at 24804.
WGUL-FM, Inc., 15 FCC Rcd. 24366 (2000)(involving an instance where owner
of building where radio station`s file was located inexplicably closed the
building the day of the inspection, thus making accessibility beyond the
See Jesse C. and Ernestine A. Ross, 19 FCC Rcd. 20823 (Enf. Bur. 2004),
aff'd on other grounds, 21 FCC Rcd. 7913 (Enf. Bur. 2006); Victory & Power
Ministries, Inc., 19 FCC Rcd. 19761 (Enf. Bur. 2004); EICB-TV, LLC., 19
FCC Rcd. 18611 (Enf. Bur. 2004); Marion R. Williams, 19 FCC Rcd. 15324
(Enf. Bur. 2004); and Willis Broadcasting Corp, 17 FCC Rcd. 7053 (Enf.
12 FCC Rcd 17087 (1997), recon. denied, 15 FCC Rcd 303 (1999) ("Forfeiture
47 U.S.C. S 503.
47 U.S.C. S 503(b)(2)(D).
47 U.S.C. S 405.
47 C.F.R. S 1.106.
47 U.S.C. S 504(a).
47 C.F.R. S 1.1914.
Federal Communications Commission DA 07-232
Federal Communications Commission DA 07-232