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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of Steckline Communications, Inc. Licensee of Station KQAM
Wichita, Kansas ) ) ) ) ) ) File No.: EB-FIELDSCR-12-00005158 NAL/Acct.
No.: 201432560002 FRN: 0009951286 Facility ID: 61362
Adopted: February 5, 2014 Released: February 5, 2014
By the Regional Director, South Central Region, Enforcement Bureau:
1. In this Forfeiture Order (Order), we issue a monetary forfeiture in
the amount of twenty-one thousand dollars ($21,000) to Steckline
Communications, Inc. (Steckline), licensee of AM Station KQAM
(Station), in Wichita, Kansas, for willfully and repeatedly violating
Sections 73.62, 73.1560(a), 73.1745(a), and 73.3526 of the
Commission's rules (Rules).^ The noted violations involved Steckline's
failure to maintain required directional patterns within prescribed
parameters, operate within authorized power limits, and maintain and
make available a complete public inspection file.
2. On October 24, 2013, the Enforcement Bureau's Kansas City Office
(Kansas City Office) issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for
Forfeiture and Order (NAL) for twenty-one thousand dollars ($21,000)
to Steckline for operating the Station out of compliance with its
authorization and for public inspection file violations.^ As reflected
in the NAL, on October 22, 2012, an agent from the Kansas City Office
observed that the Station failed to operate at authorized nighttime
power limits.^ The agent also observed that the Station's antenna's
directional pattern was not within authorized levels.^ Finally, the
agent observed the Station's public inspection file did not contain
the required issues programs lists.^
3. In response to the NAL, Steckline requests significant reduction of
the proposed forfeiture.^ Steckline asserts that prior to September
26, 2012, the Station was operating at licensed parameters and only
had one reading out of tolerance, which was promptly corrected after
the October 22, 2012 inspection.^ Steckline also argues that its
hiring of a consultant to do testing at the Station's monitoring
points before the inspection is evidence of a "program to maintain
rule compliance," which shows that any operational violations were not
willful.^ Steckline alleges that "[s]omeone with knowledge and a key
to our facility had tampered with the transmitter between September 26
and October 22."^ Steckline provides no other explanation for why the
Station was operating with more than authorized power at night and
with unauthorized directional antenna parameters. Steckline states
that the agent from the Kansas City Office "mistakenly misunderstood
shock and dismay" by Station personnel during the inspection upon
discovery of the alleged tampering as ignorance regarding why the
station operated overpower.^ Steckline admits that what the Station
called its "issues programs lists" only contained lists of community
issues and not the required lists of the programming the Station had
aired on those issues, and states that it remedied this violation.^
Finally, Steckline requests a substantial reduction of the proposed
forfeiture, because it had not received a Commission violation prior
to the written notices received in 2012 for other stations it owns.^
4. The proposed forfeiture amount in this case was assessed in accordance
with Section 503(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended
(Act),^ Section 1.80 of the Rules,^ and the Forfeiture Policy
Statement.^ In examining Steckline's NAL Response, Section
503(b)(2)(E) 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
5. We affirm the NAL's finding that Steckline violated Sections 73.62,
73.1560(a), and 73.1745(a) of the Rules by operating its Station
inconsistent with the terms of its station authorization.^ Steckline
does not deny that on October 22, 2012, the Station was incapable of
operating within authorized power limits at night, that its
directional antenna was not within authorized levels, or that it could
not correct the antenna's directional parameters when set in nighttime
mode. Instead, Steckline asserts that its Station was operating within
parameters prior to September 26, 2012, the date of a hired
consultant's inspection, and that an unidentified third party must
have tampered with the Station's equipment sometime between that date
and the agent's inspection on October 22, 2012. Accordingly, Steckline
asserts its violations were not willful. However, Steckline's
violations were willful, because it consciously operated the Station.^
The Commission has held that inadvertent mistakes neither excuse a
rule violation nor mitigate a forfeiture liability.^ Even if a third
party tampered with the Station's equipment, Steckline's continued
operation of the Station while failing to monitor its power level and
directional pattern and discover its non-compliance, rendered its
actions willful.^ Moreover, we note that, unless the alleged sabotage
occurred on October 21, 2012, all of the violations would have
occurred on more than one day, and we may issue forfeitures for
violations that are merely repeated and not willful.^ Therefore, based
on the evidence before us, we conclude that Steckline willfully and
repeatedly violated Sections 73.62, 73.1560(a), and 73.1745(a) of the
Rules by failing to operate the Station within authorized power limits
and maintain required directional patterns within prescribed
6. We also affirm the NAL's finding that Steckline violated Section
73.3526 of the Rules by failing to maintain and make available a
complete public inspection file for the Station.^ On October 22, 2012,
an agent from the Kansas City Office asked to inspect the Station's
public inspection file during regular business hours. The public
inspection file contained documents that the Station called "issues
programs lists"--except for the third quarter of 2012-- but these
documents did not contain any lists or information regarding the
programs aired to address community issues.^ In its NAL Response,
Steckline admitted omitting the missing information and stated that it
has since supplemented its issues programs lists.^ Based on the
evidence before us, we find that Steckline willfully and repeatedly
violated Section 73.3526 of the Rules by failing to maintain required
issues programs lists for the Station and willfully violated Section
73.3526 of the Rules by failing to make available required issues
programs lists for the Station.
7. Finally, we reject Steckline's request for reduction of the proposed
forfeiture on the basis of its history of compliance with the Rules.
On July 12, 2012, an agent from the Kansas City Office observed AM
antenna fencing, main studio, and public inspection violations at
KYUL-AM and KIUL-AM, two stations owned by Steckline.^ We researched
our records and determined Steckline also received a Notice of
Violation on November 29, 2012 for violations associated with another
of its stations, KGYN-AM.^ Therefore, while Steckline may not have
received a written violation prior to 2012, it can no longer claim
that it has a history of compliance with the Rules. Therefore, we
conclude no reduction in forfeiture is warranted on these grounds.
Based on the evidence before us, we conclude that Steckline willfully
and repeatedly violated Sections 73.62, 73.1560(a), 73.1745(a), and
73.3526 of the Rules by failing to maintain required directional
patterns within prescribed parameters, operate within authorized power
limits, and maintain and make available a complete public inspection
file. As a result, the twenty-one thousand dollar ($21,000) forfeiture
proposed in the NAL is warranted.
IV. ORDERING CLAUSES
8. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 503(b) of the Act
and Sections 0.111, 0.204, 0.311, 0.314, and 1.80(f)(4) of the Rules,
Steckline Communications, Inc. IS LIABLE FOR A MONETARY FORFEITURE in
the amount of twenty-one thousand dollars ($21,000) for violations of
Sections 73.62, 73.1560(a), 73.1745(a), and 73.3526 of the Rules.^
9. Payment of the forfeiture shall be made in the manner provided for in
Section 1.80 of the Rules within thirty (30) calendar days after the
release date of this Order.^ If the forfeiture is not paid within the
period specified, the case may be referred to the U.S. Department of
Justice for enforcement of the forfeiture pursuant to Section 504(a)
of the Act.^ Steckline Communications, Inc. shall send electronic
notification of payment to SCR-Response@fcc.gov on the date said
payment is made. The payment must be made by check or similar
instrument, wire transfer, or credit card, and must include the
NAL/Account Number and FRN referenced above. Regardless of the form of
payment, a completed FCC Form 159 (Remittance Advice) must be
submitted.^ When completing the FCC Form 159, enter the Account Number
in block number 23A (call sign/other ID) and enter the letters "FORF"
in block number 24A (payment type code). Below are additional
instructions you should follow based on the form of payment you
* Payment by check or money order must be made payable to the order of
the Federal Communications Commission. Such payments (along with the
completed Form 159) must be mailed to Federal Communications
Commission, P.O. Box 979088, St. Louis, MO 63197-9000, or sent
via overnight mail to U.S. Bank - Government Lockbox #979088,
SL-MO-C2-GL, 1005 Convention Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63101.
* Payment by wire transfer must be made to ABA Number 021030004,
receiving bank TREAS/NYC, and Account Number 27000001. To complete
the wire transfer and ensure appropriate crediting of the wired funds,
a completed Form 159 must be faxed to U.S. Bank at (314) 418-4232 on
the same business day the wire transfer is initiated.
* Payment by credit card must be made by providing the required credit
card information on FCC Form 159 and signing and dating the Form 159
to authorize the credit card payment. The completed Form 159 must then
be mailed to Federal Communications Commission, P.O. Box 979088, St.
Louis, MO 63197-9000, or sent via overnight mail to U.S. Bank -
Government Lockbox #979088, SL-MO-C2-GL, 1005 Convention Plaza, St.
Louis, MO 63101.
10. Any request for making full payment over time under an installment
plan should be sent to: Chief Financial Officer--Financial
Operations, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, S.W.,
Room 1-A625, Washington, D.C. 20554.^ If you have questions regarding
payment procedures, please contact the Financial Operations Group Help
Desk by phone, 1-877-480-3201, or by e-mail, ARINQUIRIES@fcc.gov.
10. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Order shall be sent by both
First Class and Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, to Steckline
Communications, Inc. at 1632 South Maize Road, Wichita, KS 67209 and
1300 North 17^th Street, 11^th Floor, Arlington, VA 22209.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Dennis P. Carlton
Regional Director, South Central Region
^ 47 C.F.R. SS 73.62, 73.1560(a), 73.1745(a), 73.3526.
^ Steckline Communications, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for
Forfeiture and Order, 28 FCC Rcd 14611 (Enf. Bur. 2013) (NAL). A
comprehensive recitation of the facts and history of this case can be
found in the NAL and is incorporated herein by reference.
^ Id. at 14611, para. 2.
^ Id. at 14611, para. 3.
^ Id. at 14612, para.4.
^ Letter from Greg Steckline, President, Steckline Communications, Inc.,
to Kansas City Office, South Central Region, Enforcement Bureau at 1-2
(received Nov. 22, 2013) (on file in EB-FIELDSCR-12-00005158) (NAL
^ Id. at 1.
^ Letter from Greg Steckline, President, Steckline Communications, Inc.,
to Kansas City Office, South Central Region, Enforcement Bureau at 1
(received Dec. 18, 2013) (on file in EB-FIELDSCR-12-00005158) (NAL
^ NAL Response at 1.
^ Id. at 2.
^ Id. at 1.
^ Id. at 2; See Steckline Communications, Inc., Notice of Apparent
Liability for Forfeiture, 28 FCC Rcd 6168 (Enf. Bur. 2013) (KYUL NAL);
Steckline Communications, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for
Forfeiture, 28 FCC Rcd 6174 (Enf. Bur. 2013) (KIUL NAL).
^ 47 U.S.C. S 503(b).
^ 47 C.F.R. S 1.80.
^ The Commission's Forfeiture Policy Statement and Amendment of Section
1.80 of the Rules to Incorporate the Forfeiture Guidelines, Report and
Order, 12 FCC Rcd 17087 (1997), recons. denied, 15 FCC Rcd 303 (1999)
(Forfeiture Policy Statement).
^ 47 U.S.C. S 503(b)(2)(E).
^ See NAL supra note 2. Section 73.62 of the Rules requires AM licensees
operating a directional antenna to maintain directional antenna relative
phases within 3 degrees of the values specified or terminate operations
within three hours or reduce power to eliminate excessive radiation. 47
C.F.R. S 73.62. Section 73.1560(a) of the Rules requires AM station
licensees to maintain their antenna input power within 90% and 105% of the
authorized power. 47 C.F.R. S 73.1560(a). Section 73.1745(a) of the Rules
requires licensees to operate their stations pursuant to the terms
contained in their authorizations. 47 C.F.R. S 73.1745(a).
^ Steckline alleges that its hiring of the consultant to conduct the
inspection demonstrates that it had a "program to maintain rule
compliance" at the Station. NAL Response Supplement at 1. We note that the
consultant's report stated that the "field engineer visited KQAM for the
purpose of gathering pre-construction pattern data prior to construction
of the [antenna structure]," not as part of a compliance monitoring
program. In addition, if the Station had a strong compliance monitoring
program in place, it might have discovered the alleged tampering and
noncompliant operation prior to the agent's inspection. A violation may be
willful, even if the violator had no intent to violate the Rules, if the
violator consciously and deliberately committed or omitted a particular
act. See 47 U.S.C. S 312(f)(1). In this case, Steckline willfully operated
its Station and is responsible for the resulting violations.
^ See, e.g., Southern California Broadcasting Co., Memorandum Opinion and
Order, 6 FCC Rcd 4387, 4387, para. 3 (1991) (holding that inadvertent
mistakes are not mitigating circumstances that can serve to justify a
forfeiture reduction), recons. denied, 7 FCC Rcd 3454 (1992); see also
Princess K Fishing Corp., Forfeiture Order, 24 FCC Rcd 2606, 2608-09,
para. 9 (Enf. Bur. 2009) (stating that a licensee need not have the mens
rea to commit a violation in order for a violation to be "willful"),
recons. dismissed, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 27 FCC Rcd 4707 (Enf.
^ We note that Steckline did not raise its tampering claims during the
inspection or in its prior written responses regarding the violations. See
Steckline Communications, Inc., Notice of Violation, V201332560005 (Enf.
Bur. Nov. 8, 2012); Letter from Greg Steckline, President, Mid-America
Network, to Ronald D. Ramage, District Director, Kansas City Office, South
Central Region, Enforcement Bureau at 3 (received Nov. 27, 2012) (on file
in EB-FIELDSCR-12-00005158). Moreover, it has not provided any
corroborating evidence of its tampering claims or any reasonable theories
regarding the identity and motives of the alleged third party.
^ See, e.g., Callais Cablevision, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for
Monetary Forfeiture, 16 FCC Rcd 1359, 1362, para. 10 (2001) (Callais
Cablevision, Inc.) (proposing a forfeiture for, inter alia, a cable
television operator's repeated signal leakage).
^ See NAL supra note 2.
^ See 47 C.F.R. S 73.3526(12).
^ NAL Response at 1.
^ See KYUL NAL at 6168-69; KIUL NAL at 6174-75. The agent observed that
Station KYUL-AM did not maintain a main studio in the Scott City, Kansas
area. See KYUL NAL. The agent also inspected Station KYUL-AM's public
inspection file and found it missing all documents and issues programs
lists after 2009. Id. In addition, the agent observed a section of the
fence surrounding Station KIUL-AM's antenna structure lying on the ground.
See KIUL NAL.
^ Steckline Communications, Inc., Notice of Violation, V201332500020 (Enf.
Bur. Nov. 29, 2012).
^ 47 U.S.C. S 503(b); 47 C.F.R. SS 0.111, 0.204, 0.311, 0.314, 1.80(f)(4),
73.62, 73.1560(a), 73.1745(a), 73.3526.
^ 47 C.F.R. S 1.80.
^ 47 U.S.C. S 504(a).
^ An FCC Form 159 and detailed instructions for completing the form may be
obtained at http://www.fcc.gov/Forms/Form159/159.pdf.
^ See 47 C.F.R. S 1.1914.
Federal Communications Commission DA 14-133
Federal Communications Commission DA 14-133