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Federal Communications Commission
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Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

Report No. GN 98-5 GENERAL ACTION April 22, 1998

(MM Docket 96-173)

The FCC revoked Chameleon Radio Corporation's license for radio station KFCC(AM), Bay City, Texas, because of the licensee's numerous instances of misrepresentation and lack of candor in conjunction with a 1995 request for special temporary authority (STA) to move the station's transmitter site.

The FCC affirmed Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Joseph Chachkin's 1997 conclusion that Chameleon "engaged in a pattern of outright falsehoods, evasiveness, and deception, which rendered it unqualified to be a Commission licensee," and concluded that Chameleon's Exceptions to the ALJ decision were largely "generalized, unsupported contentions" that "provide no basis to question the ALJ's findings and conclusions, which contain a thorough analysis of Chameleon's conduct amply supported by record evidence and Commission precedent."

Chameleon's STA request came shortly after the FCC granted its application for assignment of the Bay City station from Landrum Enterprises on April 18, 1995. Chameleon immediately took the station off the air, and on April 21, 1995, made the STA request to operate from an alternate site "due to the loss of its currently licensed site," and to construct a new antenna tower. The FCC's Audio Services Division granted the STA request on May 5, 1995, but subsequently cancelled the STA on September 8, 1995, after it discovered that the proposed transmitter site would not serve the community of license, Bay City.

The ALJ found that Chameleon sought the STA to change its community of license from Bay City to a community closer to Houston and not because of any loss of Chameleon's authorized site, as it had claimed. The ALJ found that Chameleon repeatedly misrepresented its intentions to the FCC and "stonewalled" the Commission.

The ALJ also ruled that after an FCC staff member told Chameleon that it could not build a new tower but could only use an existing tower, Chameleon built a new tower and later represented that it was an existing tower. The ALJ concluded that Chameleon had "acted deceptively" and "compounded this conduct with false and candorless statements."

The FCC rejected Chameleon's appeal of the ALJ decision based on "the merit of its programming" because of a "long-standing policy that meritorious programming does not mitigate serious deliberate misconduct such as misrepresentation."

Similarly, the FCC rejected Chameleon's argument that it was entitled to move ahead with a new tower because it believed the FCC staff had erroneously interpreted the FCC rules on the subject. The FCC ruled, "Misrepresentation and lack of candor cannot be justified as the only avenues by which to express disagreement with the staff. Honesty and reliability are fundamental obligations of a licensee."

The FCC rejected Chameleon's explanation that constructing a tower that could be converted for broadcast use was merely a good faith attempt to comply with Commission policy. The FCC cited the ALJ's conclusion that the licensee's actions "were motivated by an intent to conceal material facts from the Commission because [it] knew that the Commission would deny the STA if the facts were known," and said that Chameleon "provides no basis to overturn this conclusion, which is based on detailed findings supported by record evidence."

Action by the Commission April 17, 1998, by Decision (FCC 98-73). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, Furchtgott-Roth, Powell and Tristani.

- FCC -

News Media Contact: David Fiske (202) 418-0513