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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of
Sparta-Tomah Broadcasting Co., Inc
) FRN: 0002713550
Licensee of Radio Station WKLJ
) File Number: EB-07-CG-164
Facility ID # 61681
Licensee of Radio Station WFBZ )))
File Number: EB-07-CG-218
Facility ID # 56616 )
NAL/Acct. No: 200832320002
Trempealeau, Wisconsin )
Adopted: September 1, 2009 Released: September 3, 2009
By the Regional Director, Northeast Region, Enforcement Bureau:
1. In this Forfeiture Order ("Order"), we issue a monetary forfeiture in
the amount of eight thousand eight hundred dollars ($8,800) to
Sparta-Tomah Broadcasting Co. Inc. ("Sparta-Tomah"), licensee of AM
Station WKLJ in Sparta, Wisconsin and FM Station WFBZ in Trempealeau,
Wisconsin, for willfully and repeatedly violating Sections 73.1745 and
73.1125 of the Commission's Rules ("Rules") by operating WKLJ at a
power of more than 59 watts during nighttime hours, in direct
contravention of the terms of its station authorization, and failing
to maintain a main studio for WFBZ consistent with the Rules. In this
Order, we consider Sparta-Tomah's arguments that the forfeiture amount
should be cancelled in light of Sparta-Tomah's remedial efforts and
its history of compliance with the Commission's Rules.
2. Beginning on April 4, 2007, an agent with the Chicago Field Office
conducted several inspections at stations WKLJ and WFBZ. As described
more fully below, the agent found that station WKLJ was failing to
reduce power at local sunset time as required by its station
authorization and that Sparta-Tomah was not maintaining a main studio
for station WFBZ consistent with the Commission's Rules.
3. The station authorization for WKLJ specifies that the station must
reduce power from its authorized daytime power of 5000 Watts to its
authorized nighttime power of 59 Watts at local sunset time. During
the April 4, 2007 inspection, a FCC agent reviewed WKLJ's station
logs, which indicated that WKLJ was not reducing power at night as
required by its license during February, March and April, 2007.
Subsequent field strength measurements taken by the agent on May 22,
2007 and May 23, 2007, showed that WKLJ failed to reduce power to the
authorized nighttime levels at local sunset time. During a follow-up
inspection on May 24, 2007, the station's general manager and engineer
confirmed that the station had not been reducing power at local sunset
time since at least January 2007.
4. With regard to the WFBZ main studio, the FCC agent found during his
May 23, 2007, inspection that the station's purported main studio in
Onalaska, WI, which needed to be unlocked by the station's engineer,
had assorted non-operational broadcast equipment lying on the floor,
no physical radio link or landline telecommunications data link to the
WFBZ transmitter, and no employees in the office at that time. During
an interview on May 24, 2007, WFBZ's general manager and engineer
reported that, after Sparta acquired WFBZ, all of the station's
operations, including the broadcast studio, were moved to Sparta's
headquarters at 113 West Oak Street in Sparta, WI. According to the
general manager, the Onalaska office had one full time employee until
May 21, 2007. The employee's primary responsibility at the Onalaska
office was to answer the phone. The general manager reported to the
agent that Sparta was in the process of installing the equipment, that
it planned to begin operating a studio-to-transmitter link between the
Onalaska office and Sparta's headquarters, and that it would be
assigning staff to work full-time from the Onalaska office.
5. On May 23, 2008, the Chicago Field Office issued a Notice of Apparent
Liability for Forfeiture ("NAL") in the amount of $11,000 to
Sparta-Tomah for failure to reduce power at local sunset time and
failure to maintain a main studio for WFBZ consistent with the Rules.
In its response, Sparta-Tomah does not dispute the findings in the
NAL, but requests that we cancel the forfeiture in light of its
remedial efforts and history of compliance.
6. The proposed forfeiture amount in this case was assessed in accordance
with Section 503(b) of the Act, Section 1.80 of the Rules, and The
Commission's Forfeiture Policy Statement and Amendment of Section 1.80
of the Rules to Incorporate the Forfeiture Guidelines ("Forfeiture
Policy Statement"). In examining Sparta-Tomah'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
7. We decline to cancel or reduce the forfeiture based on Sparta-Tomah's
alleged remedial efforts. The Commission consistently has held that
reductions are appropriate based on good faith efforts to correct or
remedy violations prior to the Commission's involvement. Sparta-Tomah
has not submitted any documentation showing that it had taken steps to
correct WKLJ's nighttime over-powered operations prior to the agent's
inspection on April 4, 2007. With regard to the main studio for WFBZ,
Sparta-Tomah submits documentation showing that it purchased broadcast
equipment for the studio in August 2006. Although the equipment was
purchased prior to the agent's inspection of the main studio on May
23, 2007, Sparta-Tomah failed to install any of the equipment despite
having ample time to do so. Sparta-Tomah's inaction does not
constitute a good faith effort to comply and nullifies any downward
adjustment in the forfeiture for which Sparta-Tomah may have been
entitled for pre-inspection remedial efforts. We therefore conclude
that a reduction on this basis is not warranted.
8. Finally, Sparta-Tomah asks that we consider reducing the forfeiture
based on its overall record of compliance with the Commission's Rules.
We have reviewed our records and find no other violations against the
licensee. Under similar circumstances, we have reduced proposed
forfeitures, and find that doing so in this case is appropriate.
Consequently, we reduce Sparta-Tomah's forfeiture amount from $11,000
IV. ORDERING CLAUSES
9. ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 503(b) of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended ("Act"), and Sections 0.111,
0.311 and 1.80(f)(4) of the Commission's Rules, Sparta-Tomah
Broadcasting Co. Inc., IS LIABLE FOR A MONETARY FORFEITURE in the
amount of $8,800 for willfully and repeatedly violating Sections
73.1745 and 73.1125 of the Rules.
10. 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/Account
Number and FRN Number referenced above. Payment by check or money
order may be mailed to Federal Communications Commission, P.O. Box
979088, St. Louis, MO 63197-9000. Payment by overnight mail may be
sent to U.S. Bank - Government Lockbox #979088, SL-MO-C2-GL, 1005
Convention Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63101. Payment by wire transfer may be
made to ABA Number 021030004, receiving bank TREAS/NYC, and account
number 27000001. For payment by credit card, an FCC Form 159
(Remittance Advice) must be submitted. When completing the FCC Form
159, enter the NAL/Account number in block number 23A (call sign/other
ID), and enter the letters "FORF" in block number 24A (payment type
code). Requests for full payment under an installment plan should be
sent to: Chief Financial Officer -- Financial Operations, 445 12th
Street, S.W., Room 1-A625, Washington, D.C. 20554. Please contact
the Financial Operations Group Help Desk at 1-877-480-3201 or Email:
ARINQUIRIES@fcc.gov with any questions regarding payment procedures.
Sparta-Tomah Broadcasting Co., Inc. shall also send electronic
notification on the date said payment is made to NER-Response@fcc.gov
11. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Order shall be sent by First
Class Mail and Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested to Sparta-Tomah
Broadcasting Co., Inc., at its address of record.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
G. Michael Moffitt
Regional Director, Northeast Region
47 C.F.R. S:S: 73.1745(a), and 73.1125(a)
As noted in the NAL, the location of Sparta's headquarters, i.e., 113
West Oak Street, Sparta, Wisconsin, is not within WFBZ's community of
license, is not within WFBZ's principal contour, and is not within
twenty-five miles of the reference coordinates of Trempealeau, which is
the community of license for WFBZ. Thus, under the Commission's main
studio requirements, this location is not eligible to be the main studio
for WFBZ. See 47 C.F.R. S: 73.1125(a).
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, NAL/Acct. No. 200832320002
(Enf. Bur., Chicago Office, rel. May 23, 2008).
Letter from John F. Neely, Counsel for Sparta-Tomah, to FCC Chicago
Office, dated June 17, 2008. At the request of FCC staff, Sparta-Tomah
submitted a supplemental response to the NAL on June 30, 2009 regarding
its remedial efforts. Letter from John F. Neely, Counsel for Sparta-Tomah,
to Sharon Webber, dated June 30, 2009.
47 U.S.C. S: 503(b).
47 C.F.R. S: 1.80.
12 FCC Rcd 17087 (1997), recon. denied, 15 FCC Rcd 303 (1999).
47 U.S.C. S: 503(b)(2)(E).
See e.g., Sutro Broadcasting Corporation, 19 FCC Rcd 15274, 15277 (2004)
(stating that the Commission will generally reduce the assessed forfeiture
amount "based on the good faith corrective efforts of a violator when
those actions were taken prior to Commission notification of the
See e.g., Cayuga County Community College, Forfeiture Order, 2009 WL
1856467 (EB 2009).
47 U.S.C. S: 503(b), 47 C.F.R. S:S: 0.111, 0.311, 1.80(f)(4), 11.35(a),
73.1560(a), 73.1745(a), 73.3526(e)(12).
47 U.S.C. S: 504(a).
Federal Communications Commission DA 09-1989
Federal Communications Commission DA 09-1989