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                           Before the
                Federal Communications Commission
                     Washington, D.C. 20554




In the Matter of                 )
                                )
World Communications             )
Satellite Systems, Inc.          )    File No. EB-03-TC-038
                                )
                                )    NAL/Acct. No. 200332170006
Apparent Liability for           )    FRN: 0009553652
Forfeiture                       )
                                )


                        FORFEITURE ORDER

   Adopted: February 17, 2004           Released: February 18, 
2004

By the Chief, Enforcement Bureau:

I.   INTRODUCTION

               1.   In  this  Forfeiture  Order  (``Order''),  we 
issue a monetary forfeiture in the amount of ten thousand dollars 
($10,000) against  World Communications  Satellite Systems,  Inc. 
(``WCSS'') for violating a Commission order by failing to respond 
to a directive of the Enforcement Bureau (``Bureau'') to  provide 
certain information and documents. 

II.       BACKGROUND


               2.      The  facts and  circumstances  surrounding 
this case  are set  forth  in the  Notice of  Apparent  Liability 
previously issued by  the Bureau  and need not  be reiterated  at 
length. On July 15, 2003, the Bureau sent a letter of inquiry  to 
WCSS concerning allegations  that WCSS  may have  engaged in  the 
unauthorized  conversion  of  a  consumer's  telephone  service.1  
After obtaining  extensions  of  time,2 and  after  submitting  a 
request to the  Commission under the  Freedom of Information  Act 
(``FOIA'') to which the staff  responded,3 WCSS filed a  response 
on August 27, 2003.4  WCSS did not provide any of the information 
or documents  required  in the  Letter  of Inquiry,  but  instead 
argued that the Commission did  not have jurisdiction to  require 
the information and  that the  Bureau's failure  to respond  more 
fully to the FOIA request  was unduly prejudicial.5 On  September 
9, 2003,  the  Chief,  Enforcement Bureau,  issued  a  Notice  of 
Apparent Liability for Forfeiture in  the amount of ten  thousand 
dollars ($10,000)6  for  apparently violating  our  directive  to 
provide  specified  information  and  documents.   WCSS  filed  a 
response to the NAL on October 9, 2003.7

III.  DISCUSSION
                

               3.   In its  Response,  WCSS argues  that  (1)  it 
responded appropriately to the Letter of Inquiry by objecting  to 
it on jurisdictional grounds, which it claims it may do under the 
Federal  Rules  of  Civil  Procedure;  (2)  the  Commission   has 
permitted large carriers  such as  SBC Communications  to make  a 
good faith challenge  to a  Letter of Inquiry  and should  permit 
WCSS to  do the  same;  (3) the  Bureau erroneously  applied  res 
judicata to reject  WCSS's objections to  the Letter of  Inquiry; 
(4) WCSS was  not required to  respond to the  Letter of  Inquiry 
because the Bureau  was bound by  state adjudications  concerning 
the same conduct; (5) the  Bureau's failure to provide  documents 
in response to WCSS's Freedom  of Information Act (FOIA)  request 
justified WCSS's refusal  to provide  the requested  information; 
(6) there was no  repeated violation because  there was only  one 
request for information; (7) the Bureau failed to consider  ``the 
nature, circumstances,  and gravity  of the  violation and,  with 
respect to the violator, the  degree of culpability, any  history 
of offenses, ability to  pay, and such  other matters as  justice 
may  require;''  and  (8)  there  was  no  willful  or  egregious 
violation because WCSS only took action to defend itself.

                4.  We find  that  these  arguments  are  without 
merit, and the  proposed forfeiture is  warranted.  WCSS  claims, 
citing the Commission's  decision in  SBC Communications,  Inc.,8 
that the Commission's investigative authority follows the Federal 
Rules of  Civil Procedure,  which permits  parties to  object  to 
discovery requests.9   WCSS's  reliance  on  SBC  Communications, 
Inc., however, is misplaced. In  that case, the Commission  found 
that Sections 4(i) and 4(j), among others, of the  Communications 
Act10 provided authority  for the  Commission's requirement  that 
responses  to  Commission  inquiries  be  supported  by  a  sworn 
statement.11   In the  course of its  discussion, the  Commission 
noted that  both the  Commission's  procedural rules  for  formal 
complaints and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure require sworn 
statements.12  At no point in  the discussion did the  Commission 
state that an  investigative inquiry must  adhere to the  Federal 
Rules of  Civil Procedure.   The Commission  has never  concluded 
that  its   broad   investigatory   authority   is   limited   or 
circumscribed by the  Federal Rules  of Civil  Procedure, and  we 
decline to do so here.

                 5. Further,  WCSS  argues  that  the  Commission 
indicated in SBC Communications, Inc. that SBC could have  raised 
a good faith  challenge to the  order in question,  and that  the 
Bureau's purportedly different  treatment of WCSS  shows that  it 
favors large over small  companies.13  Again, WCSS's reliance  on 
SBC  Communications,  Inc.  is  misplaced.   In  that  case,  the 
Commission said that SBC could have raised a good faith challenge 
by seeking a stay of the Commission's order. SBC failed to do so, 
and the Commission  ultimately imposed a  $100,000 forfeiture  on 
SBC.14  A  stay, of  course, must  be sought  in advance  of  the 
action sought to be stayed.  WCSS did not seek a stay in  advance 
of the  date  for  filing  the response,  but  did  seek  various 
extensions, several of  which the Bureau  granted.  When the  due 
date  of  the  response  arrived,  WCSS  refused  to  supply  the 
information requested.  Thus, a  forfeiture is plainly  warranted 
here and is not inconsistent with SBC Communications, Inc.15

                  6.     Next, we reject  WCSS's contention  that 
the  Bureau  relied  on  the   principles  of  res  judicata   in 
determining that there was a violation.  The Bureau appropriately 
relied on  past precedent  in determining  that WCSS's  arguments 
objecting  to   the   Commission's   Letter   of   Inquiry   were 
unpersuasive, and in  concluding that WCSS  acted egregiously  in 
making these  arguments  to avoid  responding  to the  Letter  of 
Inquiry,  in   view  of   WCSS's  apparent   knowledge  of   such 
precedent.16  Contrary to WCSS's  contention, the Bureau did  not 
bind WCSS with decisions rendered in other matters.  

                  7.     We also  reject WCSS's  contention  that 
res judicata  principles  require  that  adjudications  by  state 
agencies  of  complaints  that  were  used  in  this  enforcement 
investigation be considered binding  on the Commission.17  As  we 
explained in the NAL, the Commission rejected this same  argument 
in the  WebNet  Order.  In  WebNet,  the Commission  stated  that 
``whether the adjudication happens on  a state or federal  level, 
the adjudication of slamming complaints does not shield a carrier 
from separate liability for separate enforcement actions based on 
those same complaints.''18  We see no reason to depart from  that 
analysis here.

                  8.     WCSS's  argument   regarding  its   FOIA 
request is also misguided.  WCSS  argues that it was entitled  to 
production of investigative  records prior to  responding to  the 
Letter of Inquiry.  Apparently, WCSS suspects that the Bureau had 
improper motives in instituting this investigation.  WCSS's FOIA-
related arguments  for  refusing  to respond  to  the  Letter  of 
Inquiry are unpersuasive.  In responding to a Letter of  Inquiry, 
WCSS must provide documents  and information within its  control, 
and, therefore, documents  that it requests  from the  Commission 
under FOIA are  irrelevant to  its obligation to  respond to  the 
Letter of Inquiry.  If WCSS  were concerned about getting  access 
to certain documents in order adequately to respond to a slamming 
NAL, we note that WCSS could  obtain access to documents used  by 
the Commission in making its findings once an NAL issued  against 
WCSS for slamming.19  WCSS could, therefore,  have access to  all 
documents necessary  to  respond to  the  slamming NAL.   In  any 
event, the Bureau properly  refused to provide certain  documents 
based on  FOIA exemption  7(A), 5  U.S.C.   552(b)(7)(A),  which 
authorizes  the   withholding   of   investigative   records   or 
information  compiled  for  law  enforcement  purposes  if  their 
production would interfere with enforcement proceedings.    

                  9.     We also  reject WCSS's  contention  that 
its conduct here  was not  ``willful'' or  ``repeated.''  As  the 
Bureau stated  in the  NAL,  Section 312(f)(1))  of the  Act,  47 
U.S.C.  312(f)(1), which  applies to forfeitures assessed  under 
Section 503  (b)  of the  Act,  provides that  the  ``[t]he  term 
`willful', when used with reference to the commission or omission 
of any  act, means  the conscious  and deliberate  commission  or 
omission of such act, irrespective  of any intent to violate  any 
provision of this Act or any rule or regulation of the Commission 
authorized  by  this  Act....''20  WCSS  consciously  refused  to 
provide  information  requested   in  the   Letter  of   Inquiry.  
Accordingly, WCSS's violation of a Bureau order was willful.

                  10.    Similarly, as the  Bureau stated in  the 
NAL, Section  312(f)(2) of  the Act  provides that  ``[t]he  term 
`repeated',  when  used  with  reference  to  the  commission  or 
omission of any act, means the commission or omission of such act 
more than once or, if such commission or omission is  continuous, 
for  more  than   one  day.''  47   U.S.C.    312(f)(2).    WCSS 
continuously failed  to respond  to the  Letter of  Inquiry  from 
August  27,  2003  to  September  15,  2003.   Therefore,  WCSS's 
violation was repeated within the meaning of section 312(f)(2).

                   11.   Finally,  we  reject  WCSS's  contention 
that we  did  not  consider the  nature,  circumstances,  extent, 
gravity, and culpability  of the violator.   As stated above,  we 
considered these factors and concluded that WCSS's violation  was 
apparently egregious, because WCSS knew or should have known that 
the  Commission  had  previously  rejected  arguments   virtually 
identical to those WCSS raised.21  With respect to its ability to 
pay, the NAL made  clear that the  Commission would not  consider 
reducing or  canceling a  forfeiture in  response to  a claim  of 
inability to  pay  unless WCSS  were  to submit:  (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 WCSS's current  financial 
status.   WCSS  has   not  submitted   such  documentation   and, 
therefore, cannot persuasively  claim that it  does not have  the 
ability to pay the forfeiture.

IV.       ORDERING CLAUSES

                 12.     ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED, pursuant  to 
Section 503(b) of the Communications  Act of 1934, as  amended,22 
Section 1.80(f)(4)  of the  Commission's rules,23  and  authority 
delegated  by  Sections  0.111  and  0.311  of  the  Commission's 
rules,24 that  World Communications  Satellite Systems,  Inc.  IS 
LIABLE FOR A MONETARY  FORFEITURE in the  amount of ten  thousand 
dollars ($10,000) for violating a Commission order by failing  to 
respond to  a  directive of  the  Enforcement Bureau  to  provide 
certain information and documents.

                 13.     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.25  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 
NAL/Acct. No. 200332170006.  Requests for full payment under  the 
installment  plan  should   be  sent  to:   Chief,  Revenue   and 
Receivables  Group,  445  12th  Street,  S.W.,  Washington,  D.C. 
20554.26

                 14.     IT IS  FURTHER ORDERED  that a  copy  of 
this Order  shall  be  sent by  Certified  Mail,  Return  Receipt 
Requested to The Helein Law Group, 81800 Greensboro Drive,  Suite 
700, McLean, VA 22102.

                    FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION



                    David H. Solomon
                    Chief, Enforcement Bureau

_________________________

1  Letter  from   Colleen  Heitkamp,  Chief,   Telecommunications 
Consumers Division, Enforcement  Bureau, to World  Communications 
Satellite Systems, Inc. (July 15, 2003) (``Letter of Inquiry'').
2 E-Mail from Colleen Heitkamp  to Loubna W. Haddad, counsel  for 
WCSS (August 5, 2003); E-Mail from Colleen Heitkamp to Loubna  W. 
Haddad (August 20, 2003).
3 Letter from Loubna  W. Haddad to  Managing Director, FCC  (July 
28, 2003);  Letter  from Colleen  Heitkamp  to Loubna  W.  Haddad 
(August 14, 2003).
4 Letter from  Charles H.  Helein, counsel for  WCSS, to  Colleen 
Heitkamp (August 27, 2003).
5 Id.
6  World  Communications  Satellite  Systems,  Inc.,  Notice   of 
Apparent Liability for  Forfeiture, 18 FCC  Rcd 18545 (Enf.  Bur. 
2003) (``NAL'').
7 World  Communications  Satellite  Systems's  Statement  Seeking 
Cancellation  of  Proposed   Forfeiture,  filed   Oct.  9,   2003 
(``Response'').
8 SBC Communications,  Inc., Forfeiture Order,  17 FCC Rcd  7589, 
7594 (2002).
9 Response at 5.
10 47 U.S.C.  154(i), 154(j).
11 SBC Communications, Inc., 17 FCC Rcd at 7593-94.
12 Id. at 7594.
13 Response at 6-7.
14 SBC Communications, Inc., 17 FCC Rcd at 7597, 7600.
15 Further, we note that the relative forfeiture amounts  imposed 
on SBC and WCSS  do not support WCSS's  contention that we  favor 
large companies over small companies.
16 WCSS's counsel  in this  matter also  represented WebNet,  the 
subject of the prior precedent the Bureau relied on as persuasive 
in the  NAL.   It  should  be  noted  that,  contrary  to  WCSS's 
contention, the WebNet decision was a Commission and not a Bureau 
decision.  WebNet  Communications, Inc.,18  FCC Rcd  6870  (2003) 
(WebNet).
17 Response at 9.
18 18 FCC Rcd at 6873-74.
19  World  Communications  Satellite  Systems,  Inc.,  Notice  of 
Apparent Liability for  Forfeiture, File  No. EB-03-TC-177  (rel. 
Jan. 15, 2004).
20 See Southern California  Broadcasting Co., Memorandum  Opinion 
and Order, 6 FCC Rcd 4387 (1991).
21 We note that, based on all the circumstances in this case,  we 
elected to  impose  a  forfeiture  far  lower  than  the  maximum 
possible amount, as described in the NAL.
22 47 U.S.C.  503(b).
23 47 U.S.C.  1.80(f)(4).
24 47 C.F.R.  0.111, 0.311.
25 47 U.S.C.  504(a).
26 See 47 C.F.R.  1.1914.