Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Commission Document

$44K Forfeiture to WLS(AM) for Sponsorship ID Violations

Download Options

Released: February 10, 2014

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 14-10

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Radio License Holding XI, LLC

)
File No: EB-09-IH-0574
)
NAL/Acct. No.: 201232080012
Licensee of Station WLS(AM),
)
FRN: 0014650006
Chicago, Illinois
)
Facility ID No.: 73227

FORFEITURE ORDER

Adopted: February 7, 2014

Released: February 10, 2014
By the Commission:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
In this Forfeiture Order, issued pursuant to Section 503(b) of the Communications Act of
1934, as amended (Act),1 we find that Radio License Holding XI, LLC (Radio License or Licensee),
licensee of Station WLS(AM), Chicago, Illinois (Station), willfully and repeatedly violated Section
317(a)(1) of the Act2 and Section 73.1212(a) of the Commission’s rules3 by failing to air required
sponsorship identification announcements. Based on a review of the facts and circumstances, we find
Radio License liable for a forfeiture in the amount of forty-four thousand dollars ($44,000).

II.

BACKGROUND

2.
The Commission received a complaint alleging that, on March 19, 2009, at 2:29 p.m., the
Station aired program matter on behalf of an organization called Workers Independent News (WIN)
without adequately disclosing the fact that it was an advertisement, rather than a news story.4 The
Enforcement Bureau issued a letter of inquiry (LOI) to the Licensee concerning the allegations raised in
the Complaint.5 The Licensee responded to the LOI on February 18, 2011.6
3.
In its LOI Response, Radio License states that, during the period between March 18 and
May 30, 2009, it aired program matter on behalf of WIN in return for consideration or the promise of
consideration provided by WIN.7 Radio License explains that the program matter consisted of a total of

1 See 47 U.S.C. § 503(b).
2 47 U.S.C. § 317(a)(1).
3 47 C.F.R. § 73.1212(a).
4 See Complaint, FCC Form 2000E Complaint No. 09-C00104365-1 at 1–2 (Mar. 19, 2009) (on file in EB-09-IH-
0574) (Complaint).
5 See Letter from Kenneth M. Scheibel, Jr., Assistant Chief, Investigations and Hearings Division, FCC Enforcement
Bureau, to Radio License Holding XI, LLC (Jan. 19, 2011) (on file in EB-09-IH-0574) (LOI).
6 See Letter from Dennis P. Corbett, Nancy A. Ory, and F. Scott Pippin, Counsel to Radio License Holding XI, LLC,
Lerman Senter PLLC, to Paul Noone, Special Counsel, Investigations and Hearings Division, FCC Enforcement
Bureau (Feb. 18, 2011) (on file in EB-09-IH-0574) (LOI Response).
7 See id. at 2–3.

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 14-10

45 90-second spots, 27 15-second promotional announcements, two two-hour programs, and one one-
hour program.8 Radio License further explains that all of this program matter complied with the
Commission’s sponsorship identification requirements9 except for 11 of the 45 90-second spots.10 Radio
License states that all of these 11 spots referenced “Workers Independent News” and identified the
narrator, but did not specifically state that the program matter was sponsored, paid for, or furnished by
WIN.11 Despite this omission, in the LOI Response, Radio License contended that the announcements
satisfied the Commission’s sponsorship identification requirements.12
4.
Radio License provided recordings and transcripts for the announcements at issue.13 The
11 announcements at issue were informational program material, each related to a state legislative issue
impacting the local economy of Chicago. The transcript of one of these announcements, in its entirety, is
as follows:
Workers Independent News, I’m Doug Cunningham. As Federal Economic Stimulus
dollars flow to Chicago, State Representative Joe Lyons says it’s more critical than ever
that the State put together a capital bill to take maximum advantage of the stimulus to
put Chicago back to work.
(Joe Lyons quote) “Unfortunately for the past 2 or 3 years, with the situation we’ve had
in this state, the time wasn’t right to put a capital bill together. One of the major issues
that we will have to do before we adjourn the general assembly is get a capital bill to tap
into some of that [f]ederal [m]oney that can make putting (mumbled word – at :39 of the
clip) people to work and getting good jobs to people here in Illinois all the easier.”
Lyons says securing funding for the capital bill will allow projects to be bonded out,
improving not only employment and the economy, but Chicago’s infrastructure as well.
(Joe Lyons quote) “Ask anybody in Chicago about the crumbling street situation. Ask
anybody who’s been waiting for a school addition or new windows or some project that’s
being done for education, ask anybody who’s been for any kind of a capital project across
the state, we have not had that umph that we need to kick-start this whole thing and there’s
going to be federal matching funds on the transportation end of it to get this done for CTA
or RTA.[”]
The capital bill could make Olympics infrastructure preparation easier, should Chicago land
the 2016 Olympic Games. As Illinois Director of Veteran’s Affairs, Dan Grant, says as
construction projects ramp up, existing [s]tate programs to help veterans can be used in
combination with them to multiply job opportunities for veterans.
(Dan Grant quote) “For example, a tax credit for employers who hire veterans, we have
veterans employment preference for [s]tate jobs.”

8 See id.
9 See 47 C.F.R. § 73.1212.
10 See LOI Response at 3.
11 See id.
12 See id. We note that Radio License does not maintain this position in its March 5, 2012, response to the NAL in
this proceeding. See infra para. 10 & note 58.
13 See id. at Exs. A & B.
2

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 14-10

Doug Cunningham, Workers Independent News.14
5.
On February 3, 2012, the Commission released a Notice of Apparent Liability for
Forfeiture (NAL).15 In the NAL, the Commission found that Radio License had failed to air required
sponsorship identification announcements, in apparent willful violation of the sponsorship identification
laws and Commission’s rules, 47 U.S.C. § 317(a)(1) and 47 C.F.R. § 73.1212.16 Specifically, the
Commission found that Radio License aired 11 promotional announcements during the period between
March 18 and May 30, 2009, in return for consideration or the promise of consideration provided by
WIN, without airing required sponsorship identification announcements.17 Accordingly, the Commission
proposed a forfeiture of forty-four thousand dollars ($44,000) against Radio License.18
6.
On March 5, 2012, Radio License responded to the NAL, requesting that the forfeiture
amount be reduced to four thousand dollars ($4,000).19 Radio License asserts that the Commission failed
to follow the statutory forfeiture criteria set forth in Section 503(b)(2)(E) of the Act or the forfeiture
criteria set forth in Section 1.80(b) of the Commission’s rules, but instead “mechanically applied” the
base sponsorship identification rule violation forfeiture to each of the 11 announcements at issue
here.20 Radio License argues that in previous cases, the Commission has refrained from imposing a
forfeiture that might have otherwise been justified if it simply multiplied the base forfeiture amount by the
number of instances in which a violation occurred.21 Radio License submits that in this instance, the
Commission should reduce the forfeiture due to Radio License’s inadvertent employee error, which it
states caused the conduct,22 and Radio License’s actions after the conduct, which it maintains constitute
corrective measures.23

III.

DISCUSSION

7.
Under Section 503(b)(1) of the Act, any person who is determined by the Commission to
have willfully or repeatedly failed to comply with any provision of the Act or any rule, regulation, or
order issued by the Commission shall be liable to the United States for a forfeiture penalty.24 Section
312(f)(1) of the Act defines willful as “the conscious and deliberate commission or omission of [any] act,
irrespective of any intent to violate” the law.25 The legislative history to Section 312(f)(1) of the Act
clarifies that this definition of willful applies to both Sections 312 and 503(b) of the Act26 and the

14 See id. at Ex. A, Spot # C463, and Ex. B (audio recording), Track 6.
15 See Radio License Holding XI, LLC, Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 27 FCC Rcd 930 (2012) (NAL).
16 See id. at 930–35, paras. 1–11.
17 See id. at 930–31, para. 3, 932–35, paras. 6–11.
18 See id. at 935, para. 11.
19 See Letter from Andrew S. Kersting, Counsel to Radio License Holding XI, LLC, Dickstein Shapiro LLP, to
Theresa Z. Cavanaugh, Acting Chief, Investigations and Hearings Division, FCC Enforcement Bureau (Mar. 5,
2012) (on file in EB-09-IH-0574) (NAL Response). Counsel subsequently reported an address change. Letter from
Lewis J. Paper and Andrew S. Kersting, Counsel to Radio License Holding XI, LLC, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw
Pittman LLP, to Theresa Z. Cavanaugh, Acting Chief, Investigations and Hearings Division, FCC Enforcement
Bureau (Apr. 11, 2012) (on file in EB-09-IH-0574).
20 NAL Response at 2.
21 See id. at 3–4.
22 See id. at 3.
23 See id. at 2–3.
24 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(1)(B); 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(a)(2); see also 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(1)(D).
25 47 U.S.C. § 312(f)(1).
26 H.R. Rep. No. 97-765, 97th Cong. 2d Sess. 51 (1982).
3

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 14-10

Commission has so interpreted the term in the Section 503(b) context.27 The Commission may also assess
a forfeiture for violations that are merely repeated, and not willful.28 “Repeated” means that the act was
committed or omitted more than once, or lasts more than one day.29 To impose such a forfeiture penalty,
the Commission must issue a notice of apparent liability and the person against whom the notice has been
issued must have an opportunity to show, in writing, why no such forfeiture penalty should be imposed.30
The Commission will then issue a forfeiture if it finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the person
has willfully or repeatedly violated the Act or a Commission rule.31

A.

Radio License Violated the Sponsorship Identification Laws.

8.
Section 317(a)(1) of the Act and Section 73.1212(a) of the Commission’s rules require
stations to broadcast an announcement if content is aired in exchange for valuable consideration “directly
or indirectly paid, or promised to or charged or accepted by, the station so broadcasting” at the time the
material is aired.32 Specifically, Section 317(a)(1) provides:
All matter broadcast by any radio station for which any money, service or other valuable
consideration is directly or indirectly paid, or promised to or charged or accepted by, the station
so broadcasting, from any person, shall, at the time the same is so broadcast, be announced as
paid for or furnished, as the case may be, by such person: Provided, That “service or other
valuable consideration” shall not include any service or property furnished without charge or at
nominal charge for use on, or in connection with, a broadcast unless it is so furnished in
consideration for an identification in a broadcast of any person, product, service, trademark, or
brand name beyond an identification which is reasonably related to the use of such service or
property on the broadcast.33
Section 73.1212(a) of the Commission’s rules, which implements Section 317(a)(1) of the Act, further
provides:
When a broadcast station transmits any matter for which money, service, or other valuable
consideration is either directly or indirectly paid or promised to, or charged or accepted by such
station, the station, at the time of the broadcast, shall announce:
(1) That such matter is sponsored, paid for, or furnished, either in whole or in part, and
(2) By whom or on whose behalf such consideration was supplied: Provided, however, That
“service or other valuable consideration” shall not include any service or property furnished
either without or at a nominal charge for use on, or in connection with, a broadcast unless it is so
furnished in consideration for an identification of any person, product, service, trademark, or
brand name beyond an identification reasonably related to the use of such service or property on
the broadcast.34

27 See, e.g., S. Cal. Broad. Co., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 6 FCC Rcd 4387, 4388, para. 5 (1991) (S. Cal.
Broad.
), recon. denied, 7 FCC Rcd 3454 (1992).
28 See, e.g., Callais Cablevision, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for Monetary Forfeiture, 16 FCC Rcd 1359,
1362, para. 10 (2001) (Callais Cablevision) (issuing a Notice of Apparent Liability for, inter alia, a cable television
operator’s repeated violation of the cable signal leakage rules).
29 S. Cal. Broad., 6 FCC Rcd at 4388, para. 5; Callais Cablevision, 16 FCC Rcd at 1362, para. 9.
30 47 U.S.C. § 503(b); 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(f).
31 See, e.g., SBC Commc’ns, Inc., Forfeiture Order, 17 FCC Rcd 7589, 7591, para. 4 (2002) (forfeiture paid).
32 47 U.S.C. § 317(a)(1); see 47 C.F.R. § 73.1212(a).
33 47 U.S.C. § 317(a)(1).
34 47 C.F.R. § 73.1212(a).
4

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 14-10

9.
The Commission has explained that the sponsorship identification rules are “grounded in
the principle that listeners and viewers are entitled to know who seeks to persuade them. . . .”35 The
disclosures required by the sponsorship identification rules provide listeners and viewers with information
concerning the source of material in order to prevent misleading or deceiving those listeners and
viewers.36
10.
In its NAL Response, Radio License does not deny that it violated the Commission’s
rules, and we find by a preponderance of the evidence that Radio License willfully and repeatedly
engaged in the violations described in the NAL. More specifically, we find that Radio License willfully
and repeatedly violated Section 317(a)(1) of the Act and Section 73.1212(a) of the Commission’s rules by
failing to air required sponsorship identification announcements on 11 separate occasions identified in the
NAL. Thus, we do not revisit the NAL’s conclusion that Radio License violated the sponsorship
identification laws.37

B.

Balancing Factors, We Find No Basis to Reduce the Forfeiture.

11.
We now turn to the proposed forfeiture amount, which we assessed in accordance with
Section 503(b) of the Act,38 Section 1.80 of the Commission’s rules,39 and the Commission’s forfeiture
guidelines set forth in its Forfeiture Policy Statement.40 In assessing forfeitures, Section 503(b) of the Act
requires that we 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
matters as justice may require.41 In addition, with respect to broadcast licensees, Section 503(b)(2)(A) of
the Act authorizes monetary forfeitures of up to $37,500 for each violation or each day of a continuing
violation, except that the amount assessed for any continuing violation shall not exceed a total of
$375,000 for any single act or failure to act.42 We have examined Radio License’s NAL Response

35 See, e.g., Commission Reminds Broadcast Licensees, Cable Operators and Others of Requirements Applicable to
Video News Releases and Seeks Comment on the Use of Video News Releases by Broadcast Licensees and Cable
Operators
, Public Notice, 20 FCC Rcd 8593, 8593–94 (2005).
36 See Sonshine Family Television, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 22 FCC Rcd 18686, 18694,
para. 15 (2007), aff’d with reduced forfeiture, Forfeiture Order, 24 FCC Rcd 14830, 14834, para. 12 (2009)
(forfeiture reduced, based on licensee’s history of compliance) (forfeiture paid).
37 NAL, 27 FCC Rcd at 935, para. 11.
38 See 47 U.S.C. § 503(b).
39 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.
40 See 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).
41 See 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(E); see also 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(b)(8).
42 See 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(A); 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(b). The Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act of 1990,
Pub. L. No. 101-410, 104 Stat. 890, as amended by the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-
134, Sec. 31001, 110 Stat. 1321 (DCIA), requires the Commission to adjust its forfeiture penalties periodically for
inflation. See 28 U.S.C. § 2461 note (4). The Commission most recently adjusted its penalties to account for
inflation in 2013. See Amendment of Section 1.80(b) of the Commission’s Rules, Adjustment of Civil Monetary
Penalties to Reflect Inflation
, Order, 28 FCC Rcd 10785 (Enf. Bur. 2013); see also Inflation Adjustment of Monetary
Penalties
, 78 Fed. Reg. 49,370-01 (Aug. 14, 2013) (setting Sept. 13, 2013, as the effective date for the
increases). However, because the DCIA specifies that any inflationary adjustment “shall apply only to violations
which occur after the date the increase takes effect,” we apply the forfeiture penalties in effect at the time the
violation took place. 28 U.S.C. § 2461 note (6). Here, because the violations at issue occurred before September
13, 2013, the applicable maximum penalties are based on the Commission’s previous inflation adjustment that
became effective on September 2, 2008. See Inflation Adjustment of Maximum Forfeiture Penalties, 73 Fed. Reg.
44,663, 44,664 (July 31, 2008).
5

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 14-10

pursuant to the aforementioned statutory factors, the Commission’s rules, and the Forfeiture Policy
Statement
, and, for the reasons discussed below, we find no basis to reduce the forfeiture.
1.

Previous Cases Do Not Require a Reduction to $4,000.

12.
First, we find that precedent does not require that we treat Radio License’s conduct as
one discrete violation warranting a base forfeiture of four thousand dollars ($4,000). Radio License
argues that in previous cases, the Commission refrained from imposing forfeitures that might have
otherwise been justified if it simply multiplied the base forfeiture amount by the number of instances in
which a violation occurred.43 Thus, Radio License reasons, the Commission must follow the same
approach here.44 We acknowledge that certain past cases, including some of those cited by the Licensee,
imposed forfeiture amounts equal to the base forfeiture for a single violation specified by the
Commission’s rules, notwithstanding multiple instances of violation.45 In more recent cases involving the
sponsorship identification rules, however, the Commission has imposed significantly higher forfeiture
amounts and has calculated the forfeiture by multiplying the base forfeiture by the number of violations.46
We note that the cases relied on by Radio License are not only older, but are Bureau-level decisions while
Sonshine Family Television, Inc. is a Commission level decision. We are following here the approach we
used in Sonshine, and we intend that the Commission and the Bureau will generally take this approach to
calculating forfeiture amounts for sponsorship identification violations in the future. The forfeiture
amounts proposed or assessed for violations of the sponsorship identification rules in any case reflect
consideration of the unique facts of each case in accordance with the aggravating and mitigating factors
set forth in Section 503 of the Act and Section 1.80 of the Commission’s rules. Thus, the base forfeiture
amount in this case considers the eleven broadcasts as eleven violations, not a single violation. As further
described below, we determined the forfeiture amount in this case after consideration of all of the relevant
factors in light of the unique facts of this case. Likewise, future cases, though starting from consideration
of each separate broadcast as a separate violation, may reach a different overall conclusion depending on
the application of the relevant factors to the unique facts of those cases.

43 See NAL Response at 3–4 (citing, e.g., AMFM Radio Licenses, L.L.C., Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture,
15 FCC Rcd 19700, 19703, para. 11 (Enf. Bur. 2000); Dallas Media Investors Corp., Notice of Apparent Liability
for Forfeiture, 8 FCC Rcd 3597–98 (Mass Med. Bur. 1993) (proposing a twelve thousand, five hundred dollar
($12,500) forfeiture, double the then applicable base forfeiture, for a licensee’s apparent violation of sponsorship
identification laws on 12 separate occasions); Mercury Broad. Co., Inc., Forfeiture Order, 25 FCC Rcd 4564, 4565–
66, paras. 4–9 (Med. Bur. 2010) (assessing a sixteen thousand dollar ($16,000) forfeiture for a licensee’s violation of
the children’s programming rule on six separate occasions); WLFL Licensee, LLC, Notice of Apparent Liability for
Forfeiture, 23 FCC Rcd 8182 (Med. Bur. 2008) (proposing a sixteen thousand, five hundred dollar ($16,500)
forfeiture for a licensee’s violation of the children’s television commercial limits on 11 separate occasions)).
44 See id.
45 See id. at 3 (citing, e.g., AMFM Radio Licenses, L.L.C., 15 FCC Rcd at 19703, para. 11 (proposing a four
thousand dollar ($4,000) forfeiture for a licensee’s apparent violation of sponsorship identification laws by
broadcasting material without the required sponsorship identification over 100 times within a six week period)).
46 See, e.g., Sonshine Family Television, Inc., 22 FCC Rcd at 18695, para. 18 (in pertinent part, proposing forty
thousand dollar ($40,000) forfeiture against Sonshine which, in exchange for consideration, broadcast five episodes
of the program “The Right Side with Armstrong Williams” on a total of 10 separate occasions, and proposing a
thirty-six thousand dollar ($36,000) forfeiture against Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. for broadcast of “2004 Election
Countdown” on nine stations without the required sponsorship announcements); Comcast Corp., Notice of Apparent
Liability for Forfeiture, 22 FCC Rcd 17474, 17479, para. 12 (Enf. Bur. 2007) (in pertinent part, proposing sixteen
thousand dollar ($16,000) forfeiture against cable operator for four origination cablecasts that included “video news
release” material without required sponsorship announcements) (forfeiture paid). In addition, we deem the
Licensee’s references to cases involving the Commission’s children’s programming rules to be inapposite to this
case, which exclusively involves its admitted multiple violations of the sponsorship identification rules.
6

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 14-10

2.

The Commission Appropriately Applied Criteria to Determine Forfeiture.

13.
Radio License characterizes our application of relevant statutory criteria to be
“mechanical,”47 and therefore deficient under the criteria set forth in the Act and the Commission’s rules.
This characterization, however, is incorrect. Section 503(b)(2)(E) of the Act and Section 1.80(b)(8) of the
Commission’s rules set forth the factors to be considered when determining the amount of forfeiture
penalties.48 Specifically, these provisions require 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 such other matters as justice may require.”49
In this case, the Commission considered the number of repetitions in determining the extent of the
violations.50 In addition, the Commission considered the nature, circumstances, and gravity of the
violations in noting that the announcements in question were formatted and presented as news.51
Therefore, the Commission appropriately applied the above-referenced criteria in this case.
3.

No Factors Support Reducing the Forfeiture.

14.
Radio License asserts that the cause of the violations—inadvertent employee error—and
Radio License’s actions following the violations support a forfeiture amount decrease.52 We disagree.
The Commission has long held that a downward adjustment is not justified where violators claim their
actions or omissions were due to inadvertent employee errors.53 We find no reason to depart from this
precedent here. Consequently, there is no basis to conclude that Radio License has demonstrated that it is
entitled to mitigation of the forfeiture amount based on a lack of culpability.
15.
Radio License also asserts that its efforts to comply with the Commission’s rules
following the violations merit a reduction of the forfeiture amount.54 Specifically, the Licensee provides
evidence that it discovered the failure to include a sponsorship identification in each of the 11 broadcasts
and took prompt action on its own to correct the problem before receiving our LOI.55 In appropriate
instances, the Commission may reduce a forfeiture if a licensee has voluntarily disclosed its conduct or
taken corrective measures to remedy its conduct before an investigation.56 As noted above, however,

47 NAL Response at 2.
48 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(E); 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(b)(8).
49 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(E); see 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(b)(8).
50 See NAL, 27 FCC Rcd at 935, para. 11.
51 See id. at 933–34, para. 8.
52 See NAL Response at 2–3.
53 See, e.g., S. Cal. Broad., 6 FCC Rcd at 4387, para. 3 (stating that “inadvertence . . . is at best, ignorance of the
law, which the Commission does not consider a mitigating circumstance”); Standard Commc’ns Corp.,
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 1 FCC Rcd 358, 358, para. 4 (1986) (stating that “employee acts or omissions,
such as clerical errors in failing to file required forms, do not excuse violations”); Corr Wireless Commc’ns LLC,
Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 24 FCC Rcd 5419, 5421, para. 7 (Enf. Bur. 2009) (declining to reduce a
proposed forfeiture when licensee claimed unauthorized operation of two stations was caused inadvertently by a
technician’s error).
54 See NAL Response at 2–3.
55 See id.
56 See Note to Section 1.80(b)(8) of the Commission’s rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(b)(8) (listing “Good faith or voluntary
disclosure” as a basis for adjusting forfeitures downward); Radio One Licenses, Inc., Memorandum Opinion and
Order, 18 FCC Rcd 15964, 15965, para. 4 (2003) (reducing forfeiture assessed for Emergency Alert System rule
violations due to licensee’s corrective measures prior to an inspection), recons. denied, Memorandum Opinion and
Order, 18 FCC Rcd 25481 (2003); but see Sutro Corp., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 19 FCC Rcd 15274,
15277, para. 10 (2004) (Sutro) (rejecting tower owner’s request for further reduction of forfeiture amount due to
(continued....)
7

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 14-10

Section 503(b)(2)(E) of the Act and Section 1.80(b)(8) of the Commission’s rules require consideration of
a number of factors when determining the amount of a forfeiture.57 In this case, Radio License states that
it resumed compliance with the sponsorship identification rules in subsequent broadcasts of sponsored
material, although it did not voluntarily disclose the violations to the Commission. Moreover, Radio
License does not indicate that it had taken particular measures or specific additional steps intended to
ensure future compliance with the sponsorship identification rule.58 Nor does it indicate that it took steps
that were within its power to ameliorate the effects of its prior violations (e.g., broadcast announcements
notifying listeners that the 11 90-second advertisements previously aired were not, in fact, news stories,
but rather had been paid for by Workers Independent News).59 We conclude that a downward adjustment
for timely remedial action is not warranted in these circumstances. As a result of Radio License’s
repeated violations of the sponsorship identification rule, on 11 separate occasions, the Station’s listeners
were exposed to material that appeared to be objective news stories deprived of the knowledge that the
material was, in fact, prepared to convey the particular point of view of the organization that paid or
promised to pay the Licensee consideration to air it. As the Commission has noted, audience members
“are entitled to know when the program ends and the advertisement begins.”60
16.
Moreover, Radio License does not argue that its history of compliance or inability to pay
warrant a downward adjustment of the proposed forfeiture. Based on the specific facts and totality of the
circumstances in this case, including the nature, extent, and gravity of the violations, and in the absence of
any creditable mitigating factors, we find that the record as a whole does not support a downward
adjustment of the proposed forfeiture.61

IV.

ORDERING CLAUSES

17.
Accordingly,

IT IS ORDERED

that, pursuant to Section 503(b) of the Communications
Act, as amended,62 and Section 1.80(f)(4) of the Commission’s rules,63 Radio License Holding XI, LLC,

IS LIABLE FOR A MONETARY FORFEITURE

in the amount of forty-four thousand dollars
(Continued from previous page)
good faith efforts based on tower owner’s periodic unsuccessful attempts to register its tower where those efforts
were characterized by lengthy delays in filings, evincing a lack of diligence).
57 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(E); 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(b)(8).
58 In a Declaration provided as Exhibit A to the NAL Response, the Station’s General Manager represents that, on
March 24, 2009, the Station’s General Sales Manager “became aware that the WIN spots did not contain the
required sponsor identification” and, that day, sent an email to station personnel alerting them to the problem and the
need that it be corrected “first thing on WED.” Radio Licensee fails to explain why this unidentified Station official
would have sent such an e-mail if, as its LOI Response contends, the Licensee believed that the 11 programs at issue
“satisfy sponsorship identification requirements.” LOI Response at 3. Radio License also filed with its LOI
Response a declaration of the Station’s General Manager, in which he stated that he had reviewed the filing and
attested to its accuracy. We note this inconsistency in Radio License’s responses, and find that it is exacerbated by
the fact that the Station’s General Manager at the time of the NAL Response was Director of Sales of the Station in
2009, when the events at issue occurred. Radio License also fails to provide a copy of the March 24 e-mail or
identify its purported author.
59 In this respect, this case is distinguishable from Radio One Licenses, Inc., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 18
FCC Rcd 15964 (2003).
60 See Sonshine Family Television, Inc., 22 FCC Rcd at 18688, para. 5.
61 See Sutro, 19 FCC Rcd at 15277, para. 10; Shubat Transp. Co., Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 26
FCC Rcd 3782, 3785, para. 12 (Enf. Bur. 2011) (finding that although former licensee’s disclosures and remedial
efforts appeared to precede the Commission’s investigation or initiation of enforcement action, reduction of the
forfeiture was not appropriate under the circumstances).
62 See 47 U.S.C. § 503(b).
63 See 47 C.F.R. §1.80(f)(4).
8

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 14-10

($44,000) for its willful and repeated violation of Section 317(a)(1) of the Communications Act, as
amended,64 and Section 73.1212(a) of the Commission’s rules.65
18.
Payment of the forfeiture shall be made in the manner provided for in Section 1.80 of the
Commission’s rules within 15 days of the release of this Forfeiture Order.66 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 Communications Act, as amended.67 Radio License
Holding XI, LLC shall send electronic notification of payment to Theresa Z. Cavanaugh at
Terry.Cavanaugh@fcc.gov, Jeffrey J. Gee at Jeffrey.Gee@fcc.gov, Anjali Singh at
Anjali.Singh@fcc.gov, Melanie Godschall at Melanie.Godschall@fcc.gov, and Melissa Marshall at
Melissa.Marshall@fcc.gov on the date said payment is made.
19.
The payment of the forfeiture 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.68 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 select:
 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.
20.
Any request for 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. 20554.69 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.
21.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

that a copy of this Forfeiture Order shall be sent by First
Class Mail and Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, to Radio License Holding XI, LLC, 3280

64 See 47 U.S.C. § 317(a)(1).
65 See 47 C.F.R. § 73.1212(a).
66 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.
67 47 U.S.C. § 504(a).
68 An FCC Form 159 and detailed instructions for completing the form may be obtained at
http://www.fcc.gov/Forms/Form159/159.pdf.
69 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1914.
9

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 14-10

Peachtree Road, NW, Suite 2300, Atlanta, Georgia 30305, and to its counsel of record, Lewis J. Paper,
Esq. and Andrew S. Kersting, Esq., Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, 2300 N Street, NW,
Washington, D.C. 20037.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary
10

Note: We are currently transitioning our documents into web compatible formats for easier reading. We have done our best to supply this content to you in a presentable form, but there may be some formatting issues while we improve the technology. The original version of the document is available as a PDF, Word Document, or as plain text.

close
FCC

You are leaving the FCC website

You are about to leave the FCC website and visit a third-party, non-governmental website that the FCC does not maintain or control. The FCC does not endorse any product or service, and is not responsible for, nor can it guarantee the validity or timeliness of the content on the page you are about to visit. Additionally, the privacy policies of this third-party page may differ from those of the FCC.