Click here for Adobe Acrobat version
Click here for Microsoft Word version
This document was converted from Microsoft Word.
Content from the original version of the document such as
headers, footers, footnotes, endnotes, graphics, and page numbers
will not show up in this text version.
All text attributes such as bold, italic, underlining, etc. from the
original document will not show up in this text version.
Features of the original document layout such as
columns, tables, line and letter spacing, pagination, and margins
will not be preserved in the text version.
If you need the complete document, download the
Microsoft Word or Adobe Acrobat version.
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of )
Willis Broadcasting Corporation ) File No.
Licensee of WGRM-FM ) NAL/Acct. No.
Greenwood, Mississippi ) FRN No. 0004-
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Adopted: April 15, 2002 Released: April
By the Chief, Enforcement Bureau:
1. In this Memorandum Opinion and Order (``Order''),
we grant in part and deny in part Willis Broadcasting
Corporation's (``Willis Broadcasting'') petition for
reconsideration of the Forfeiture Order that we released on
October 18, 2001.1 In the Forfeiture Order, we assessed a
$25,000 forfeiture against Willis Broadcasting for violating
Sections 1.89(b), 11.35(a), 17.4(a)(2), and 73.3526(c) of
the Commission's Rules (``Rules'').2 The noted violations
relate to Willis Broadcasting's failure to respond to
Commission correspondence; failure to have operational
Emergency Alert System (``EAS'') equipment at WGRM-FM;
failure to register WGRM-FM's antenna structure; and failure
to make WGRM-FM's public inspection file available for
inspection. For the reasons explained below, we reduce
Willis Broadcasting's $25,000 forfeiture to $22,000.
2. On April 24, 2001, an agent from the Commission's
New Orleans, Louisiana Field Office (``Field Office''),
inspected Willis Broadcasting's WGRM-FM facility in
Greenwood, Mississippi. During his inspection, the agent
found that WGRM-FM's EAS equipment was neither properly
installed nor capable of receiving EAS messages,3 WGRM-FM's
antenna structure was not registered,4 and that WGRM-FM had
failed to ensure that its public inspection file was
available at all times during normal business hours.5
3. On May 3, 2001, the agent issued a Notice of
Violation (``NOV'') to Willis Broadcasting, via certified
mail, return receipt requested, citing the EAS, antenna
structure, and public inspection file violations. Pursuant
to Section 1.89(b) of the Rules, the agent directed Willis
Broadcasting to respond to the NOV within twenty days6 of
the May 3, 2001 NOV issuance date and noted that enforcement
action might follow if it did not. The U.S. Postal Service
delivered the NOV to Willis Broadcasting on May 7, 2001.
Receiving no response to the May 3, 2001 NOV, on May 25,
2001, the agent resent a copy of the NOV to Willis
Broadcasting and warned it that it was required to respond
to Commission correspondence. This time, the agent directed
Willis Broadcasting to respond within fifteen days of the
May 25, 2001 reissuance date and noted that penalties might
follow if it did not. The U.S. Postal Service delivered the
resent NOV to Willis Broadcasting on May 31, 2001. Willis
Broadcasting did not respond. Subsequently, on July 3,
2001, the District Director of the Field Office issued a
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (``NAL'') to
Willis Broadcasting for its failure to respond to Commission
correspondence, EAS, antenna structure, and public
inspection file violations.7 Willis Broadcasting did not
respond to the NAL. On October 18, 2001, we issued the
Forfeiture Order, noting that Willis Broadcasting had not
responded the NAL, and in which we imposed the proposed
$25,000 forfeiture. Willis Broadcasting now asks us to
reconsider the Forfeiture Order and reduce or cancel the
4. According to Willis Broadcasting, at the time the
agent inspected WGRM-FM and during the following period at
issue here, its president and chief executive officer was
struck with a disabling illness that disrupted Willis
Broadcasting's normal functioning and led to its failure to
respond to the NAL. Willis Broadcasting asks us to waive
the $25,000 forfeiture because its failure to respond was
caused by events beyond its control. Willis Broadcasting's
failure to respond to NAL is not a violation of the Rules
and did not result in any penalty, per se. That failure did
lead, however, to our issuance of the Forfeiture Order in
this case. Accordingly, we deny Willis Broadcasting's
request that we waive the $25,000 NAL and turn to the other
issues Willis Broadcasting raises in its petition for
5. To the extent that Willis Broadcasting is
requesting that we reconsider the issuance of the NAL for
the Section 1.89(b) of the Rules violation for failing to
respond to the NOV, we will examine Willis Broadcasting's
purported reasons for the delay in responding. Section
1.89(b) of the Rules specifies that:
[i]f an answer cannot be sent or an acknowledgment
cannot be made within such 10-day period by reason
of illness or unavoidable circumstance,
acknowledgment and answer shall be made at the
earliest practicable date with a satisfactory
explanation for the delay.8
According to Willis Broadcasting, it is the licensee of
twenty-one AM and FM stations and holds 100% of the stock of
several subsidiary corporations that are Commission
licensees. Willis Broadcasting states that its president
and chief executive was solely responsible for the affairs
of Willis Broadcasting and its subsidiary corporations, and
was primarily responsible for overseeing the day-to-day
operations at Willis Broadcasting's broadcast facilities.
Willis Broadcasting then details its president and chief
executive officer's illness and its corporate response of
appointing its vice president to ``address any issues or
matters pertaining to the day-to-day operations and
activities of the corporation and any matters pertaining to
the radio stations, which the President has been unable to
address.'' Instead of specifying a date certain when the
vice-president took on the president and chief executive's
duties and obligations, Willis Broadcasting simply states
that it was from the advent of the illness and continues to
the present. We know that the agent inspected WGRM-FM on
April 24, 2001. We do not know, however, when Willis
Broadcasting's president and chief executive first fell ill.
Lacking that information and the subsequent date that Willis
Broadcasting appointed the vice president to discharge the
president and chief executive's duties and obligations, we
are unable to evaluate whether Willis Broadcasting's
November of 2001 explanation of its seven-month delay in
responding to the May 3, 2001 NOV, which was reissued on May
25, 2001, was made at the earliest practicable date.9 Thus,
we deny Willis Broadcasting's request for reconsideration of
the Section 1.89(b) of the Rules violation and affirm the
issuance of the monetary forfeiture for this violation.10
6. Willis Broadcasting seeks reconsideration of the
Section 11.35(a) of the Rules violation included in the NAL
and Forfeiture Order. Specifically, it takes issue with our
statement in the Forfeiture Order that it ``did not have
Emergency Alert System'' equipment installed . . . .''
According to Willis Broadcasting, WGRM-FM's EAS unit was in
place when the agent inspected the station, albeit
malfunctioning. Our review of the record reveals that in
the Forfeiture Order, we inadvertently omitted the words
``and operating'' to the sentence ``Willis . . . did not
have Emergency Alert System equipment installed . . . .''11
We do not find that the inadvertent omission of the two
words ``and operating'' is prejudicial to Willis
Broadcasting in this instance because the NAL sufficiently
recounted that ``the EAS equipment was not properly
installed or capable of monitoring or receiving EAS
messages.''12 Indeed, Willis Broadcasting concedes that the
EAS unit was malfunctioning and has since fixed the unit and
obtained a backup EAS unit. Consequently, we find that
Willis Broadcasting was not complying with Section 11.35(a)
of the Rules at the time of the agent's inspection. Thus,
we deny reconsideration on this issue, and affirm the
issuance of the monetary forfeiture for this violation, as
7. Willis Broadcasting next seeks reconsideration of
the Section 17.4(a)(2) of the Rules violation included in
the NAL and Forfeiture Order. Willis Broadcasting asserts
that WGRM-FM's antenna structure was registered, contrary to
our assertion in the NAL and Forfeiture Order. When the
agent inspected WGRM-FM, he determined that the antenna
structure associated with WGRM-FM was not registered.13
Willis Broadcasting now tells us that the antenna structure
was registered at the time of the agent's inspection and
provides us with ASR number 1010218. Our review of the
Commission's ASR number database reveals that the antenna
structure was in fact registered at the time of the agent's
inspection and that ``Clay V. Ewing, d/b/a WGRM'' is listed
as the antenna structure's owner. Therefore, we will reduce
the forfeiture amount by the $3,000 amount noted in the NAL
for this violation. Although we find that WGRM-FM's antenna
structure was registered, we instruct Willis Broadcasting to
update the appropriate Commission antenna structure
ownership records if Mr. Ewing no longer owns the antenna
structure associated with WGRM-FM.14
8. In its final request for reconsideration, Willis
Broadcasting states WGRM-FM's public inspection file ``was
at the Station at the time of the inspection.'' Willis
Broadcasting concedes that ``there may have been some
documents misfiled and/or missing'' from the public
inspection file at that time, errors that Willis
Broadcasting has since corrected. The operative provision
of Section 73.3526(c)(1) for a licensee that maintains its
main studio within its community of license is that the
public inspection file ``must be available for public
inspection at any time during regular business hours.''15
Willis Broadcasting's contention that WGRM-FM's public
inspection file was at the station, albeit missing some
parts, does not excuse it from failing to provide the public
inspection file to the agent at his request. Accordingly,
we deny Willis Broadcasting's request for reconsideration on
this point and affirm the issuance of the monetary
forfeiture for this violation.
9. In conclusion, after subtracting $3,000 for the
Section 17.4(a)(2) of the Rules violation that we are
dismissing in this Order, we find Willis Broadcasting liable
for a $22,000 forfeiture.
IV. Ordering Clauses
10. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to
Section 405 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended
(``Act''),16 and Sections 1.80(i) and 1.106 of the Rules,17
Willis Broadcasting Corporation's petition for
reconsideration IS GRANTED to the extent indicated herein
and IS DENIED in all other respects.
11. Payment of the $22,000 forfeiture shall be made in
the manner provided for in Section 1.80 of the Rules,18
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.19 Payment may be
made by mailing a check or similar instrument, payable to
the order of the ``Federal Communications Commission,'' to
the Federal Communications Commission, P.O. Box 73482,
Chicago, Illinois 60673-7482. The payment should note the
NAL/Acct. No. 200132620004 and FRN No. 0004-3042-67
referenced above. Requests for full payment under an
installment plan should be sent to: Chief, Revenue and
Receivables Operations Group, 445 12th Street, S.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20554.20
12. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Order
shall be sent by certified mail, return receipt requested,
to Willis Broadcasting Corporation, 645 Church Street, Suite
400, Norfolk, Virginia 23510, and to its counsel, David M.
Hunsaker, Esq., Putbrese, Hunsaker & Trent, P.C., 100
Carpenter Drive, Suite 100, P.O. Box 217, Sterling, Virginia
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
David H. Solomon
Chief, Enforcement Bureau
1 Willis Broadcasting Corp., 16 FCC Rcd 18565 (Enf. Bur.
2 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.89(b), 11.35(a), 17.4(a)(2), 73.3526(c).
3 See 47 C.F.R. § 11.35(a).
4 See 47 C.F.R. § 17.4(a)(2).
5 See 47 C.F.R. § 73.3526(c).
6 Section 1.89(b) of the Rules requires a written answer
within 10 days of receipt of the NOV or such other period as
may be specified. 47 C.F.R. § 1.89(b).
7 Willis Broadcasting Corp., NAL/Acct. No. 200132620004
(Enf. Bur., New Orleans Field Office rel. July 3, 2001)
8 47 C.F.R. § 1.89(b). Willis Broadcasting used its
petition for reconsideration to explain its delay.
9 Commission records reveal that in several prior cases that
are not pending before us, Willis Broadcasting failed to
respond to NOVs that it received in April, June, and
September of 1999 regarding the operation of its stations.
10 Compare with Northeast Passage Corp., 16 FCC Rcd 21890
(Enf. Bur. 2001) (claim for relief granted where supported
by description of illnesses, pertinent dates of disability,
and effect on petitioner's ability to respond to Commission
11 See Willis Broadcasting Corp., 16 FCC Rcd at 18565.
12 Willis NAL at ¶ 2.
13 The agent did not see the Antenna Structure Registration
Number (``ASR'') number posted per Section 17.4(g) of the
Rules. In addition, the station's general manager was
unable to produce any documentation relating to this matter
and told the agent that he did not know whether the antenna
structure was registered. The agent's search of the ASR
number database did not show that Willis Broadcasting had
registered the structure.
14 See 47 C.F.R. § 17.57; see American Tower Corp., 16 FCC
Rcd 1282 (2001) (new owner liable for Section 17.57 of the
Rules violation for failing to update antenna structure
ownership information after the sale of the antenna
See 47 C.F.R. § 73.3526(c)(1).
16 47 U.S.C. § 405.
17 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.80(i), 1.106.
47 C.F.R. § 1.80.
19 47 U.S.C. § 504(a).
20 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1914.