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Liberty Communications, Inc.

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Released: April 25, 2014
Federal Communications Commission DA 14-541

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of:
)
)

Liberty Communications, Inc.
)
FRN: 0021232889
Licensee of Station W50CH
)
NAL/Acct. No. 201441420006
Alton, Illinois
)
Facility ID No. 37238

FORFEITURE ORDER

Adopted: April 25, 2014

Released: April 25, 2014

By the Chief, Video Division, Media Bureau:

I. INTRODUCTION

1.
In this Forfeiture Order, issued pursuant to Sections 0.61(f)(1) and 1.80(a)(1) and (2)
of the Commission’s rules,1 we find that Liberty Communications, Inc, licensee of Station
W50CH, Alton, Illinois, repeatedly violated (i) Section 73.3526(e)(11)(i) by failing to file the
Station’s quarterly issues/programs lists and (ii) Section 73.3526(e)(11)(iii) of the Commission’s
Rules by failing to file electronically with the Commission the Station’s Children’s Television
Programming Reports (FCC Form 398) in a timely manner. Based on our review of the facts and
circumstances, we find the Licensee liable for a forfeiture of Four Thousand Two Hundred
Dollars ($4,200.00).

II. BACKGROUND

2.
The Video Division issued a Notice of Apparent Liability (“NAL”) for Forfeiture on
February 10, 2014.2 The NAL notified the Licensee that its failure to file its issues/programs lists
for 26 quarters and its failure to file timely its Children’s Television Programming Reports for 17
quarters during the license period constituted an apparent willful or repeated violation of Sections
73.3526(e)(11)(i) & (iii) of the Commission’s rules.3 The Division concluded that the Licensee was
apparently liable for a forfeiture of $13,000. In a timely response dated March 26, 2014, the
Licensee did not dispute the violations but asserted that the proposed forfeiture amount should be
reduced based on its ability to pay.4

III. DISCUSSION

3.
The Commission is authorized to license radio and television broadcast stations and
is responsible for enforcing the Commission’s rules and applicable statutory provisions
concerning the operation of those stations. 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


1 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.61(f)(1), 1.80(a)(1) & (2).
2 Liberty Communications, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, DA 14-169 (Feb. 10, 2014).
3 47 C.F.R. § 73.3526(e)(11)(i) & (iii).
4 Licensee Response to Notice of Apparent Liability (“Licensee Response”) (Mar. 26, 2014).

Federal Communications Commission DA 14-541

the United States for a forfeiture penalty.5
In order to impose a forfeiture penalty, the
Commission must issue a notice of apparent liability, the notice must be received, and the person
against whom the notice has been issued must have an opportunity to show, in writing, why no
such penalty should be imposed.6 The Commission will then issue a forfeiture order if it finds by
a preponderance of the evidence that the person has violated the Act or a Commission rule.7 As
we set forth in greater detail below, we conclude that the Licensee is liable for a forfeiture for
repeated violations of Sections 73.3526(e)(11)(i) & (iii) of the Commission’s rules. We
ultimately conclude that the forfeiture amount should be reduced from $13,000 to $4,200.
4.
The Community Broadcasters Protection Act requires that Class A television stations
comply with all rules applicable to full-power television stations except for those rules that could
not apply for technical or other reasons.8 The Commission rules establish that Class A licensees
must (i) offer informational and educational children’s programming; (ii) prepare and place in a
public inspection file quarterly Children’s Television Programming Reports; and (iii) electronically
file those reports with the Commission.9 Commission rules further require that each application
filed by a licensee “shall include all information called for by the particular form on which the
application is required to be filed. …”10 Moreover, each Class A television station must prepare
and place in its public inspection file on a quarterly basis an issues/programs list demonstrating
that the station aired programming that meets the needs and interests of its community of license11
and must upload the issues/programs lists to the Commission’s website.12
5.
Commission policy establishes a base forfeiture amount of $10,000 for public file
violations and $3,000 for failure to file a required form or provide required information.13 In
determining the appropriate forfeiture amount, the Commission may adjust the base amount upward
or downward by considering the factors in Section 503(b)(2)(E), which include “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.”


5 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(1) (A) & (B); 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(a)(1) & (2). The Commission may assess a forfeiture
order for violations that are merely repeated, and not willful. See, e.g., Callais Cablevision, Inc., Grand Isle,
Louisiana
, Notice of Apparent Liability for Monetary Forfeiture, 16 FCC Rcd 1359, 1362, (2001) (issuing a
Notice of Apparent Liability for a cable television operator’s repeated violations of the Commission’s signal
leakage rules). “Repeated” means that the act was committed or omitted more than once. Southern
California Broadcasting Co.,
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 6 FCC Rcd 4387, 4388 (1991).
6 47 U.S.C. § 503(b); 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(f).
7 See, e.g., SBC Communications, Inc., Forfeiture Order, 17 FCC Rcd 7589, 7591 (2002).
8 Community Broadcasters Protection Act of 1999, Pub. L. No. 106-113, 113 Stat. Appendix I at pp. 1501A-
594-1501A-598 (1999), codified at 47 U.S.C. § 336(f).
9 Establishment of a Class A Television Service, MM Docket No. 00-10, Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd 6355,
6366 (2000); 47 C.F.R. § 73.3526 (a)(2) & (e)(11)(iii).
10 47 C.F.R. § 73.3514(a).
11 47 C.F.R. § 73.3526(e)(11)(i).
12 Standardized and Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Television Broadcast Licensee Public Interest
Obligations
, Report and Order, 27 FCC Rcd at 4568-69; 47 C.F.R. § 73.3526(b)(2); and § 73.3526(e)(17).
13 See Forfeiture Policy Statement and Amendment of Section 1.80(b) of the Rules to Incorporate the
Forfeiture Guidelines,
Report and Order, 12 FCC Rcd 17087, 17113-15 (1997), recon. denied, 15 FCC Rcd
303 (1999); 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(b)(4).
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Federal Communications Commission DA 14-541

6.
The Licensee does not dispute that it failed to file its issues/programs lists and
Children’s Television Programming Reports with the Commission in a timely manner. These
deficiencies, regardless of the cause, constitute repeated violations of the relevant Commission
rules.
7.
The Licensee argues that the forfeiture amount should be reduced because it cannot
afford to pay the forfeiture.14
The Commission will not consider reducing or canceling a
forfeiture in response to a claimed inability to pay unless the licensee 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 licensee’s current financial status. Typically, the
Commission uses gross revenue as the primary measuring stick by which it evaluates a licensee’s
ability to pay.15 Here, the Licensee provided financial documentation in an effort to support its
argument that it cannot pay the forfeiture amount.16
8.
In the NAL, the Video Division proposed a forfeiture amount of $13,000. Having
carefully reviewed the Licensee’s submitted documentation, we reduce the forfeiture to $4,200, and
we conclude the revised forfeiture amount is in line with previous forfeitures the Commission has
determined are not excessive relative to the Licensee’s ability to pay.17

IV. ORDERING CLAUSES

9.
ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED THAT, pursuant to section 503(b) of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and Sections 0.61(f)(1) and 1.80(a)(1)&(2) of the
Commission’s rules,18 Liberty Communications, Inc. SHALL FORFEIT to the United States the
sum of Four Thousand Two Hundred Dollars ($4,200) for repeatedly violating 47 C.F.R. §
73.3526(e)(11)(i) & (iii).
10.
In the event that the Licensee wishes to revert W50CH to low power television
status, the Licensee need only notify us of this election and request a change in status for the
station.19 Should the Licensee elect to revert the station to low power status, the Licensee would
no longer be apparently liable for the forfeiture amount described herein.
11.
Payment of the forfeiture shall be made in the manner provided for in Section 1.80
(h) of the Commission’s rules within thirty (30) calendar days after the release date of this
Forfeiture Order. 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 of 1934, as amended. The Licensee shall send electronic notification of
the payment to Peter Saharko at peter.saharko@fcc.gov on the date payment is made.


14 Id. at 4.
15 San Jose State University, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 5908 (2011).
16 The Licensee submitted accounting statements for 2011-2013.
17 Hoosier Broadcasting Corporation, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 15 FCC Rcd 8640, 8641 (EB
2002) (forfeiture not deemed excessive where it represented approximately 7.6 percent of the violator's
gross revenues); Bruno Goodworth Network, Inc., Forfeiture Order, DA 13-1585, 2013 WL 3777827 (Vid.
Div. Jul. 18, 2013) (forfeiture amount reduced to approximately 7 percent of the violator’s gross revenues).
18 47 U.S.C. § 503(b); 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.61(f)(1) & 1.80(a)(1)&(2).
19 See 47 C.F.R. § 73.6001(d).
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Federal Communications Commission DA 14-541

12.
The payment 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. When
completing FCC Form 159, enter the Account Number in block number 23A (call sign/other ID)
and enter the “FORF” in block number 24A (payment type code). 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.
13.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED THAT a copy of this FORFEITURE ORDER shall
be sent by Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested to Liberty Communications, Inc., P.O. Box
1044, Alton, Illinois, 62002, and to its counsel, Michael Couzens, P.O. Box 3642, Oakland,
California, 94609.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Barbara A. Kreisman
Chief, Video Division
Media Bureau
4

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