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North County Broadcasting Corporation

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Released: February 15, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-212


Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)
North County Broadcasting Corporation
)
File No.: EB-10-SD-0028
Licensee of Station KFSD(AM)
)
NAL/Acct. No.: 201132940002
Escondido, California
)
FRN: 0003770757
)
Facility ID No.: 49205
)

FORFEITURE ORDER

Adopted: February 14, 2013

Released: February 15, 2013

By the Regional Director, Western Region, Enforcement Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
In this Forfeiture Order, we issue a monetary forfeiture in the amount of four thousand,
eight hundred dollars ($4,800) to North County Broadcasting Corporation (NCBC), licensee of Station
KFSD(AM) in Escondido, California, for willfully and repeatedly violating Section 11.35 of the
Commission's rules (Rules).1 The noted violations involve NCBC’s failure to ensure the operational
readiness of Station KFSD(AM)’s Emergency Alert System (EAS) equipment.

II

.

BACKGROUND

2.
On March 18, 2010, agents from the Enforcement Bureau’s San Diego Office (San Diego
Office) conducted an inspection of Station KFSD(AM)’s main studio, located at 1835 Aston Avenue,
Carlsbad, California, and determined that Station KFSD(AM)’s EAS equipment was not operating
properly. Specifically, the EAS equipment was capable of transmitting a required weekly test (RWT) for
NCBC’s co-located Station KCEO(AM), but it was not capable of transmitting a RWT for Station
KFSD(AM).2 During the inspection, an NCBC staff person acknowledged that Station KFSD(AM)’s
EAS equipment connection had been experiencing problems sending RWTs and the required monthly
tests (RMTs) since early December 2009. A review of the EAS logs for Station KFSD(AM) corroborated
this information.
3.
On March 31, 2010, the San Diego Office sent a letter of inquiry (LOI) to NCBC
concerning the operational status of Station KFSD(AM)’s EAS equipment.3 In its response, NCBC
acknowledged that Station KFSD(AM)’s EAS equipment, specifically the audio link, did not function
properly from December 2009 until April 8, 2010.4 According to NCBC, the operator on duty contacted


1 47 C.F.R. § 11.35.
2 Station KCEO(AM) and Station KFSD(AM) shared a common EAS unit and common monitoring receivers. The
internal audio switching in the EAS unit was used for Station KCEO(AM), while a separate remote audio switch was
used for Station KFSD(AM).
3 See Letter of Inquiry from William R. Zears, Jr., District Director, San Diego Office, Western Region,
Enforcement Bureau, to North County Broadcasting Corporation (March 31, 2010) (on file in EB-11-SD-0028).
4 See Letter from Susan E. Burke, Secretary, North County Broadcast Corporation, to William R. Zears, Jr., District
Director, San Diego Office, Western Region, Enforcement Bureau, (filed April 19, 2010, in EB-11-SD-0028) (LOI

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-212

Station KFSD(AM)’s chief engineer in December about the failure of the audio link. The chief engineer
initially believed that the station’s EAS equipment problems were intermittent, but when notified again in
late February of additional EAS failures, he performed a complete inspection of the equipment and
exchanged controlling links between pieces of the equipment. The next week, in early March, the chief
engineer inspected the wiring between the pieces of equipment and the audio paths, and tested recently
purchased pieces of equipment in an attempt to resolve the continuing EAS failures. NCBC also stated
that after the San Diego Office’s inspection on March 18, 2010, the engineer submitted the equipment for
repair and learned that a power supply filter capacitor had “finally dried up” and had gone from causing
intermittent failure to total failure of the audio link. NCBC also stated that the equipment was repaired as
of April 8, 2010.
4.
On January 11, 2011, the San Diego Office issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for
Forfeiture (NAL) against NCBC for failure to ensure the operational readiness of Station KFSD(AM)’s
EAS equipment.5 Although the base forfeiture for EAS equipment that is not properly installed or
operational is $8,000, the San Diego Office proposed a $6,000 forfeiture in light of NCBC’s repeated good-
faith attempts to identify and repair the problems.6 In particular, the San Diego Office took into account
the efforts of the Station KFSD(AM)’s engineer, prior to the San Diego Office’s inspection, to repeatedly
trouble-shoot and test the EAS unit, which he believed was experiencing intermittent failures, because co-
located Station KCEO(AM) successfully used the same unit without any failures.
5.
NCBC responded to the NAL on February 4, 2011.7 In its Response, NCBC argues that the
NAL is unenforceable because the Commission has “never complied with its obligation under the Small
Business Regulatory Enforcement and Fairness Act of 1996 . . . .”8 NCBC also argues that the proposed
forfeiture should be reduced because of NCBC’s history of compliance with the Rules, and because NCBC
took reasonable steps to resolve the EAS equipment failure when the problems with the EAS equipment
were observed.9

III.

DISCUSSION

6.
The proposed forfeiture amount in this case was assessed in accordance with Section
503(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act),10 Section 1.80 of the Rules,11 and the
Commission’s Forfeiture Policy Statement.12 In examining NCBC’s response, Section 503(b) of the Act
requires 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





Response). LOI Response at 2.
5 North County Broadcasting Corporation, Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 26 FCC Rcd 201 (Enf. Bur.
2011) (NAL).
6 See Note to Section 1.80(b)(4) of the Rules, 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(b)(4) (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 (2003), recons. denied, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 18 FCC Rcd 25481 (2003) (reducing $5,200
forfeiture assessed for Emergency Alert System rule violations to $4,000 due to the licensee’s corrective measures prior
to an investigation).
7 See Response of North County Broadcasting (filed Feb. 4, 2011, in EB-10-SD-0028) (Response).
8 Response at 1.
9 Response at 2.
10 47 U.S.C. § 503(b).
11 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.
12 The 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).
2

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-212

to pay, and other such matters as justice may require.13 We considered NCBC’s response to the NAL in
light of these statutory factors and find that reduction of the forfeiture is warranted for the reasons
discussed below.
7.
Every broadcast station is part of the nationwide EAS network.14 The EAS enables the
President and state and local governments to provide immediate and emergency communications and
information to the general public.15 State and local area plans identify local primary sources responsible
for coordinating carriage of common emergency messages from sources such as the National Weather
Service or local emergency management officials.16 Required monthly and weekly tests originate from
EAS Local or State Primary sources and must be retransmitted by the participating station.
8.
As the nation’s emergency warning system, the Emergency Alert System is critical to
public safety, and we recognize the vital role that broadcasters play in ensuring its success. The
Commission takes seriously any violations of the Rules implementing the EAS and expects full
compliance from its licensees. Section 11.35 of the Rules requires all broadcast stations to ensure that
EAS encoders, EAS decoders, and attention signal generating and receiving equipment are installed and
operational so that the monitoring and transmitting functions are available during the times the station is
in operation.17 Broadcast stations must also determine the cause of any failure to receive required
monthly and weekly EAS tests, and must indicate in the station’s log why any required tests were not
received, and when defective equipment is removed and restored to service.18 An EAS Participant may
operate without the defective equipment pending its repair or replacement for 60 days without further
FCC authority.19 If the repair or replacement of defective equipment is not completed within 60 days, an
EAS Participant shall submit an informal request to the District Director of the local FCC field office for
additional time to repair the defective equipment. 20
9.
NCBC does not dispute the facts described in the NAL. According to the investigation,
Station KFSD(AM)’s EAS equipment began to malfunction in December 2009. At that point, although
NCBC did not have an obligation to report the problem to the Commission, it still had to fix the
equipment. Station KFSD(AM)’s chief engineer concluded that the problem was intermittent because co-
located Station KCEO(AM) was using the same equipment without incident. The problems continued,
however, through late February and into early March 2010, exceeding the 60 day period allotted for repair
or replacement of EAS equipment without requesting additional time from the local FCC field office.
The Station KFSD(AM) chief engineer performed a complete inspection and attempted to identify the
source of the problem but, despite these efforts, the audio link failures persisted. When the San Diego
Office conducted its inspection on March 18, 2010, the FCC agents confirmed that Station KFSD(AM)’s
EAS equipment was malfunctioning. At that point, Station KFSD(AM)’s chief engineer submitted the
equipment for repair and learned that a power supply filter capacitor had gone from causing intermittent


13 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(E).
14 47 C.F.R. §§ 11.11, 11.41.
15 47 C.F.R. §§ 11.1, 11.21.
16 47 C.F.R. § 11.18. State EAS plans contain guidelines that must be followed by broadcast and cable personnel,
emergency officials and National Weather Service personnel to activate the EAS for state and local emergency alerts.
The state plans include the EAS header codes and messages to be transmitted by the primary state, local, and relay EAS
sources. 47 C.F.R. § 11.21.
17 47 C.F.R. § 11.35.
18 47 C.F.R. § 11.35(a)-(b).
19 See 47 C.F.R. § 11.35(b).
20 See 47 C.F.R. § 11.35(c). No such request was submitted by NCBC to the San Diego Office.
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Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-212

failure to total failure of the audio link. Station KFSD(AM) resumed operating with fully functioning
EAS equipment on April 8, 2010.21
10.
NCBC contends that the NAL cannot be enforced because NCBC is a “small entity” and
the Commission has never complied with its obligation under the Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement and Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA)22 “to adopt a specific policy or program concerning the
reduction or waiver of forfeiture for small entities.”23 We find no merit in NCBC’s contention. The
Commission has previously held that its policies, as detailed in the Forfeiture Policy Statement, comply
with the SBREFA.24 In particular, the Commission found that, consistent with the SBREFA, its precedent
requires consideration of a small entity’s ability to pay along with any good faith efforts by the entity to
comply with the law.25
11.
In the instant case, we have no evidence of NCBC’s inability to pay.26 Additionally, the
San Diego Office already reduced the proposed forfeiture amount after taking into account that “NCBC
initiated good faith efforts, albeit unsuccessfully, to troubleshoot the EAS equipment failure prior to the
Bureau’s inspection.”27
12.
NCBC also requests a reduction of the forfeiture because of its history of compliance
with the Rules.28 We have examined the record and agree. Accordingly, we reduce the total forfeiture
from $6,000 to $4,800 based on NCBC’s history of compliance with the Rules.
13.
We have examined NCBC’s Response to the NAL pursuant to the statutory factors above,
and in conjunction with the Forfeiture Policy Statement. As a result of our review, we conclude that
NCBC willfully and repeatedly violated Section 11.35 of the Rules. Considering the entire record and the
factors listed above, we find that a forfeiture in the amount of $4,800 is warranted.

IV.

ORDERING CLAUSES

14.

ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED

that, pursuant to Section 503(b) of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and Sections 0.111, 0.204, 0.311, 0.314, and 1.80(f)(4) of the
Commission’s Rules, North County Broadcasting Corporation

IS LIABLE FOR A MONETARY
FORFEITURE

in the amount of four thousand, eight hundred dollars ($4,800) for willfully and repeatedly
violating Section 11.35 of the Commission's Rules.29


21 LOI Response at 2.
22 P.L. 104-121, March 29, 1996, as amended by P.L. May 25, 2007.
23 Response at 2–3.
24 Forfeiture Policy Statement, 12 FCC Rcd at 17109.
25 Id.
26 NCBC states in the Response that “NCBC’s tax returns which were sent directly to the Field Office on May 17,
2010, along with a letter asking that the forfeiture proposed in the NAL be canceled based on NCBC’s inability to pay
[sic] establish that NCBC is a small entity.” Response at 2 n.1. We are unable to consider this claim because our
records indicate that no such letter or tax returns were ever received by the San Diego Office, no such information was
contained in the LOI Response, and the NAL was issued on January 11, 2011.
27 NAL, 26 FCC Rcd at 203. For this reason, we also reject NCBC’s contention that the proposed forfeiture amount
should be further reduced because the Station KFSD(AM) Chief Engineer made efforts to repair the equipment and that
“the problem was a technical one that the Station’s Chief Engineer was unable to identify and therefore, unable to
correct.” Response at 3–4.
28 Response at 3.
29 47 U.S.C. § 503(b), 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.111, 0.204, 0.311, 0.314, 1.80(f)(4), 11.35.
4

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-212

15.
Payment of the forfeiture shall be made in the manner provided for in Section 1.80 of the
Rules within thirty (30) calendar days after the release date of this Forfeiture Order.30 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 Act.31 North County Broadcasting
Corporation shall send electronic notification of payment to WR-Response@fcc.gov on the date said
payment is made.
16.
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.32 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:
Ÿ
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.
Ÿ
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.
Ÿ
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.
17.
Any request for full payment 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. 20554.33 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.


30 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.
31 47 U.S.C. § 504(a).
32 An FCC Form 159 and detailed instructions for completing the form may be obtained at
http://www.fcc.gov/Forms/Form159/159.pdf.
33 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1914.
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DA 13-212

18.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

that a copy of this Forfeiture Order shall be sent by both
First Class Mail and Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested to North County Broadcasting Corporation
at 1563 South State College Boulevard, Anaheim, CA 92806, and to David Tillotson, its counsel of
record, at 4606 Charleston Terrace, NW, Washington, D.C. 20007-1911.

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

Rebecca L. Dorch
Regional Director, Western Region
Enforcement Bureau
6

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