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Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
RIVERSIDE BROADCASTING, INC.. ) File No. EB-00-IH-0145
) NAL/Acct. No. X32080033
Licensee of Station WIMX(FM) ) Facility No. 7730
Gibsonburg, Ohio ) JJS
NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY FOR FORFEITURE
Adopted: September 21, 2000 Released: September 22,
By the Chief, Investigations and Hearings Division, Enforcement
1. In this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, we
find that Riverside Broadcasting, Inc. (``Riverside''), licensee
of station WIMX(FM), Gibsonburg, Ohio, apparently violated
Section 73.3526 of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. § 73.3526,
by denying access to its public inspection file on June 13 and
14, 2000, and by not maintaining a complete public inspection
file at that time. We conclude that Riverside is apparently
liable for a ten thousand dollar ($10,000) forfeiture.
2. On June 14, 2000, the Enforcement Bureau received a
complaint from Mr. Eric L. Huffman stating that on June 13, 2000,
Mr. Huffman had visited the offices of WIMX(FM) and asked to see
the public inspection file. According to Mr. Huffman, he was
first directed to the manager on site because nobody knew what a
public inspection file was. The manager then allegedly told Mr.
Huffman that he would have to talk to his boss to find out where
the file was and whether Mr. Huffman could view the file. The
manager then called his boss, who, according to Mr. Huffman,
``drilled me with questions wanting to know who I was and why I
wanted to view the file.'' The boss then told Mr. Huffman that
they would call him and let him know if he could view the file.
On June 14, 2000, Mr. Huffman states that he ``was again drilled
for questions... and was hung up on - 3 times.'' The manager
allegedly told Mr. Huffman that if he called again, the station
would call the local police and file harassment charges. As a
result of that complaint, we sent Riverside a letter of inquiry
on July 19, 2000.
3. Riverside responded to the Commission's letter of
inquiry on September 15, 2000. Riverside states that it has
difficulty responding to the specifics of the incident because
the individual who discussed the public inspection file with Mr.
Huffman no longer works at the station. It admits, however, that
Mr. Huffman was improperly denied access to the public inspection
file. Riverside believes that station personnel erroneously
believed they could require Mr. Huffman to make an appointment to
view the public inspection file and that they could ask parties
to identify themselves and the parties they represent. It then
states, ``Regrettably, a dispute appears to have arisen and Mr.
Huffman was not provided access to the file.'' Riverside also
reports that while a public inspection file existed, that file
was incomplete. For example, the only EEO employment report
contained in the public inspection file was the 1997 report, and
the file did not contain issues/programs lists for the first
three quarters of 1998, any portion of 1999, or the first quarter
of 2000. Riverside accepts responsibility for the violations and
apologizes to Mr. Huffman. Riverside states that it has
instructed station personnel that the public inspection file is
to be made available to anyone who requests it.
4. Section 73.3526(a) of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R.
§ 73.3526(a), requires all licensees of commercial broadcast
stations to maintain a public inspection file containing certain
designated information. Section 73.3526(c) of the Commission's
rules, 47 C.F.R. § 73.3526(c), states in pertinent part, ``The
file shall be available for public inspection at any time during
regular business hours.'' Section 73.3526(e) of the Commission's
rules, 47 C.F.R. § 73.3526(e), lists the contents of the public
inspection file. Among the materials required to be in the
public inspection file are copies of every annual employment
report filed by the station (47 C.F.R. § 73.3526(e)(7)), and
issues/programs lists for each quarter describing the programs
that represent ``the station's most significant treatment of
community issues during the preceding three month period.'' 47
C.F.R. § 73.3526(e)(12). Both the employment reports and the
issues/programs lists are required to be maintained in the public
inspection file until the Commission acts on the station's
renewal application. 47 C.F.R. § 73.3526(e)(7) and (12).
5. Riverside violated Section 73.3526 of the Commission's
rules by denying Mr. Huffman access to the public inspection file
on June 13 and 14, 2000. In Availability of Locally Maintained
Records for Inspection By Members of the Public, 13 FCC Rcd 17959
(MMB 1998), the Mass Media Bureau reminded licensees ``of their
duty to afford ready access to the public file. Thus, a station
may not require that a member of the public make an appointment
in advance or return at another time to inspect the public file,
or that members of the public examine the public file only at
times most convenient to the licensee or its staff.'' A station
is also prohibited from requiring individuals who request access
to the public inspection file to identify themselves or the
organization they represent. Id. Station personnel violated the
rule by denying Mr. Huffman access to the public file and by
asking him why he wanted access to the file. Furthermore,
Riverside also violated Section 73.3526 by failing to place
certain materials in the public inspection file, including
certain issues/programs lists and EEO Model Program Reports.
6. Section 503(b) of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. §
503(b) and Section 1.80(a) of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. §
1.80(a), each state that any person who willfully or repeatedly
fails to comply with the provisions of the Communications Act or
the Commission's rules shall be liable for a forfeiture penalty.
For purposes of Section 503(b) of the Communications Act, the
term ``willful'' means that the violator knew it was taking the
action in question, irrespective of any intent to violate the
Commission's rules. See Southern California Broadcasting Co., 6
FCC Rcd 4387, 4387-4388 (1991). Furthermore, a continuing
violation is ``repeated'' if it lasts more than one day. Id., 6
FCC Rcd at 4388.
7. The Commission's Forfeiture Policy Statement sets a
base forfeiture amount of $10,000 for public file violations.
The Commission's Forfeiture Policy Statement and Amendment of
Section 1.80 of the Commission's Rules, 12 FCC Rcd 17087, 17113
(1997), recon. denied FCC 99-407 (released December 28, 1999).
In this case, we believe the violations were serious,
particularly in light of the hostile reaction Mr. Huffman
encountered from station personnel. While Riverside has taken
remedial actions, those remedial efforts do not excuse prior
violations. See Sonderling Broadcasting Corp., 69 FCC 2d 289,
291 (Broadcast Bureau 1977), citing Executive Broadcasting Corp.,
3 FCC 2d 699 (1966). Considering the record as a whole, we
believe that a $10,000 forfeiture is appropriate for the
violations in this case.
IV. ORDERING CLAUSES
8. ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED pursuant to Section 503(b)
of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §
503(b), and Sections 0.111, 0.311 and 1.80 of the Commission's
rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.111, 0.311 and 1.80, that Riverside
Broadcasting, Inc. is hereby NOTIFIED of its APPARENT LIABILITY
FOR FORFEITURE in the amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000)
for willfully and repeatedly violating Section 73.3526 of the
Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. § 73.3526.
9. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, pursuant to Section 1.80 of the
Commission's rules, that within thirty days of the release of
this Notice, Riverside SHALL PAY to the United States the full
amount of the proposed forfeiture or SHALL FILE a written
statement seeking reduction or cancellation of the proposed
10. Payment of the forfeiture may be made by mailing a
check or similar instrument, payable to the order of the Federal
Communications Commission, to the Forfeiture Collection Section,
Finance Branch, Federal Communications Commission, P.O. Box
73482, Chicago, Illinois 60673-7482. The payment should note the
NAL/Acct. No. referenced above.
11. The response, if any, must be mailed to Charles W.
Kelley, Chief, Investigations and Hearings Division, Enforcement
Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, S.W,
Room 3-B443, Washington DC 20554 and MUST INCLUDE the file number
12. The Commission will not consider reducing or canceling
a forfeiture in response to a claim of inability to pay unless
the petitioner submits: (1) federal tax returns for the most
recent three-year period; (2) financial statements prepared
according to generally accepted accounting practices (``GAAP'');
or (3) some other reliable and objective documentation that
accurately reflects the petitioner's current financial status.
Any claim of inability to pay must specifically identify the
basis for the claim by reference to the financial documentation
13. Requests for payment of the full amount of this Notice
of Apparent Liability under an installment plan should be sent
to: Chief, Credit and Debt Management Center, 445 12th Street,
S.W., Washington, D.C. 20554. See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1914.
14. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Notice shall
be sent, by Certified Mail/Return Receipt Requested, to
Riverside's counsel, Kenneth E. Satten, Esq., Wilkinson Barker
Knauer, LLP, 2300 N Street, N.W., Suite 700, Washington, DC
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Charles W. Kelley
Chief, Investigations and Hearings Division