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Steckline Communications, Inc.

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Released: February 5, 2014

Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-133


Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)
Steckline Communications, Inc.
)
File No.: EB-FIELDSCR-12-00005158
)
NAL/Acct. No.: 201432560002
Licensee of Station KQAM
)
FRN: 0009951286
Wichita, Kansas
)
Facility ID: 61362

FORFEITURE ORDER

Adopted: February 5, 2014

Released: February 5, 2014

By the Regional Director, South Central Region, Enforcement Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
In this Forfeiture Order (Order), we issue a monetary forfeiture in the amount of twenty-
one thousand dollars ($21,000) to Steckline Communications, Inc. (Steckline), licensee of AM Station
KQAM (Station), in Wichita, Kansas, for willfully and repeatedly violating Sections 73.62, 73.1560(a),
73.1745(a), and 73.3526 of the Commission’s rules (Rules).1 The noted violations involved Steckline’s
failure to maintain required directional patterns within prescribed parameters, operate within authorized
power limits, and maintain and make available a complete public inspection file.

II.

BACKGROUND

2.
On October 24, 2013, the Enforcement Bureau’s Kansas City Office (Kansas City Office)
issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and Order (NAL) for twenty-one thousand dollars
($21,000) to Steckline for operating the Station out of compliance with its authorization and for public
inspection file violations.2 As reflected in the NAL, on October 22, 2012, an agent from the Kansas City
Office observed that the Station failed to operate at authorized nighttime power limits.3 The agent also
observed that the Station’s antenna’s directional pattern was not within authorized levels.4 Finally, the agent
observed the Station’s public inspection file did not contain the required issues programs lists.5
3.
In response to the NAL, Steckline requests significant reduction of the proposed forfeiture.6
Steckline asserts that prior to September 26, 2012, the Station was operating at licensed parameters and only


1 47 C.F.R. §§ 73.62, 73.1560(a), 73.1745(a), 73.3526.
2 Steckline Communications, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and Order, 28 FCC Rcd 14611 (Enf.
Bur. 2013) (NAL). A comprehensive recitation of the facts and history of this case can be found in the NAL and is
incorporated herein by reference.
3 Id. at 14611, para. 2.
4 Id. at 14611, para. 3.
5 Id. at 14612, para.4.
6 Letter from Greg Steckline, President, Steckline Communications, Inc., to Kansas City Office, South Central
Region, Enforcement Bureau at 1–2 (received Nov. 22, 2013) (on file in EB-FIELDSCR-12-00005158) (NAL
Response
).

Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-133

had one reading out of tolerance, which was promptly corrected after the October 22, 2012 inspection.7
Steckline also argues that its hiring of a consultant to do testing at the Station’s monitoring points before the
inspection is evidence of a “program to maintain rule compliance,” which shows that any operational
violations were not willful.8 Steckline alleges that “[s]omeone with knowledge and a key to our facility had
tampered with the transmitter between September 26 and October 22.”9 Steckline provides no other
explanation for why the Station was operating with more than authorized power at night and with
unauthorized directional antenna parameters. Steckline states that the agent from the Kansas City Office
“mistakenly misunderstood shock and dismay” by Station personnel during the inspection upon discovery of
the alleged tampering as ignorance regarding why the station operated overpower.10 Steckline admits that
what the Station called its “issues programs lists” only contained lists of community issues and not the
required lists of the programming the Station had aired on those issues, and states that it remedied this
violation.11 Finally, Steckline requests a substantial reduction of the proposed forfeiture, because it had not
received a Commission violation prior to the written notices received in 2012 for other stations it owns.12


III.

DISCUSSION

4.
The proposed forfeiture amount in this case was assessed in accordance with Section
503(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act),13 Section 1.80 of the Rules,14 and the
Forfeiture Policy Statement.15 In examining Steckline’s NAL Response, Section 503(b)(2)(E) 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
to pay, and other such matters as justice may require.16
5.
We affirm the NAL’s finding that Steckline violated Sections 73.62, 73.1560(a), and
73.1745(a) of the Rules by operating its Station inconsistent with the terms of its station authorization.17
Steckline does not deny that on October 22, 2012, the Station was incapable of operating within authorized
power limits at night, that its directional antenna was not within authorized levels, or that it could not correct


7 Id. at 1.
8 Letter from Greg Steckline, President, Steckline Communications, Inc., to Kansas City Office, South Central
Region, Enforcement Bureau at 1 (received Dec. 18, 2013) (on file in EB-FIELDSCR-12-00005158) (NAL Response
Supplement
).
9 NAL Response at 1.
10 Id. at 2.
11 Id. at 1.
12 Id. at 2; See Steckline Communications, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 28 FCC Rcd 6168 (Enf.
Bur. 2013) (KYUL NAL); Steckline Communications, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 28 FCC Rcd
6174 (Enf. Bur. 2013) (KIUL NAL).
13 47 U.S.C. § 503(b).
14 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.
15 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).
16 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(E).
17 See NAL supra note 2. Section 73.62 of the Rules requires AM licensees operating a directional antenna to
maintain directional antenna relative phases within 3 degrees of the values specified or terminate operations within
three hours or reduce power to eliminate excessive radiation. 47 C.F.R. § 73.62. Section 73.1560(a) of the Rules
requires AM station licensees to maintain their antenna input power within 90% and 105% of the authorized power.
47 C.F.R. § 73.1560(a). Section 73.1745(a) of the Rules requires licensees to operate their stations pursuant to the
terms contained in their authorizations. 47 C.F.R. § 73.1745(a).
2

Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-133

the antenna’s directional parameters when set in nighttime mode. Instead, Steckline asserts that its Station
was operating within parameters prior to September 26, 2012, the date of a hired consultant’s inspection, and
that an unidentified third party must have tampered with the Station’s equipment sometime between that date
and the agent’s inspection on October 22, 2012. Accordingly, Steckline asserts its violations were not willful.
However, Steckline’s violations were willful, because it consciously operated the Station.18 The Commission
has held that inadvertent mistakes neither excuse a rule violation nor mitigate a forfeiture liability.19 Even if a
third party tampered with the Station’s equipment, Steckline’s continued operation of the Station while
failing to monitor its power level and directional pattern and discover its non-compliance, rendered its actions
willful.20 Moreover, we note that, unless the alleged sabotage occurred on October 21, 2012, all of the
violations would have occurred on more than one day, and we may issue forfeitures for violations that are
merely repeated and not willful.21 Therefore, based on the evidence before us, we conclude that Steckline
willfully and repeatedly violated Sections 73.62, 73.1560(a), and 73.1745(a) of the Rules by failing to
operate the Station within authorized power limits and maintain required directional patterns within
prescribed parameters.
6.
We also affirm the NAL’s finding that Steckline violated Section 73.3526 of the Rules by
failing to maintain and make available a complete public inspection file for the Station.22 On October 22,
2012, an agent from the Kansas City Office asked to inspect the Station’s public inspection file during
regular business hours. The public inspection file contained documents that the Station called “issues
programs lists”—except for the third quarter of 2012— but these documents did not contain any lists or
information regarding the programs aired to address community issues.23 In its NAL Response, Steckline
admitted omitting the missing information and stated that it has since supplemented its issues programs
lists.24 Based on the evidence before us, we find that Steckline willfully and repeatedly violated Section
73.3526 of the Rules by failing to maintain required issues programs lists for the Station and willfully
violated Section 73.3526 of the Rules by failing to make available required issues programs lists for the
Station.


18 Steckline alleges that its hiring of the consultant to conduct the inspection demonstrates that it had a “program to
maintain rule compliance” at the Station. NAL Response Supplement at 1. We note that the consultant’s report stated
that the “field engineer visited KQAM for the purpose of gathering pre-construction pattern data prior to
construction of the [antenna structure],” not as part of a compliance monitoring program. In addition, if the Station
had a strong compliance monitoring program in place, it might have discovered the alleged tampering and
noncompliant operation prior to the agent’s inspection. A violation may be willful, even if the violator had no intent
to violate the Rules, if the violator consciously and deliberately committed or omitted a particular act. See 47 U.S.C.
§ 312(f)(1). In this case, Steckline willfully operated its Station and is responsible for the resulting violations.
19 See, e.g., Southern California Broadcasting Co., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 6 FCC Rcd 4387, 4387, para.
3 (1991) (holding that inadvertent mistakes are not mitigating circumstances that can serve to justify a forfeiture
reduction), recons. denied, 7 FCC Rcd 3454 (1992); see also Princess K Fishing Corp., Forfeiture Order, 24 FCC
Rcd 2606, 2608–09, para. 9 (Enf. Bur. 2009) (stating that a licensee need not have the mens rea to commit a
violation in order for a violation to be “willful”), recons. dismissed, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 27 FCC Rcd
4707 (Enf. Bur. 2012).
20 We note that Steckline did not raise its tampering claims during the inspection or in its prior written responses
regarding the violations. See Steckline Communications, Inc., Notice of Violation, V201332560005 (Enf. Bur. Nov.
8, 2012); Letter from Greg Steckline, President, Mid-America Network, to Ronald D. Ramage, District Director,
Kansas City Office, South Central Region, Enforcement Bureau at 3 (received Nov. 27, 2012) (on file in EB-
FIELDSCR-12-00005158). Moreover, it has not provided any corroborating evidence of its tampering claims or any
reasonable theories regarding the identity and motives of the alleged third party.
21 See, e.g., Callais Cablevision, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for Monetary Forfeiture, 16 FCC Rcd 1359,
1362, para. 10 (2001) (Callais Cablevision, Inc.) (proposing a forfeiture for, inter alia, a cable television operator’s
repeated signal leakage).
22 See NAL supra note 2.
23 See 47 C.F.R. § 73.3526(12).
24 NAL Response at 1.
3

Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-133

7.
Finally, we reject Steckline’s request for reduction of the proposed forfeiture on the basis of
its history of compliance with the Rules. On July 12, 2012, an agent from the Kansas City Office observed
AM antenna fencing, main studio, and public inspection violations at KYUL-AM and KIUL-AM, two
stations owned by Steckline.25 We researched our records and determined Steckline also received a Notice
of Violation on November 29, 2012 for violations associated with another of its stations, KGYN-AM.26
Therefore, while Steckline may not have received a written violation prior to 2012, it can no longer claim
that it has a history of compliance with the Rules. Therefore, we conclude no reduction in forfeiture is
warranted on these grounds. Based on the evidence before us, we conclude that Steckline willfully and
repeatedly violated Sections 73.62, 73.1560(a), 73.1745(a), and 73.3526 of the Rules by failing to maintain
required directional patterns within prescribed parameters, operate within authorized power limits, and
maintain and make available a complete public inspection file. As a result, the twenty-one thousand dollar
($21,000) forfeiture proposed in the NAL is warranted.

IV.

ORDERING CLAUSES

8.
Accordingly,

IT IS ORDERED

that, pursuant to Section 503(b) of the Act and Sections
0.111, 0.204, 0.311, 0.314, and 1.80(f)(4) of the Rules, Steckline Communications, Inc.

IS LIABLE
FOR A MONETARY FORFEITURE

in the amount of twenty-one thousand dollars ($21,000) for
violations of Sections 73.62, 73.1560(a), 73.1745(a), and 73.3526 of the Rules.27
9.
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 Order.28 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.29 Steckline Communications, Inc. shall send
electronic notification of payment to SCR-Response@fcc.gov on the date said payment is made.
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.30 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


25 See KYUL NAL at 6168–69; KIUL NAL at 6174–75. The agent observed that Station KYUL-AM did not maintain
a main studio in the Scott City, Kansas area. See KYUL NAL. The agent also inspected Station KYUL-AM’s public
inspection file and found it missing all documents and issues programs lists after 2009. Id. In addition, the agent
observed a section of the fence surrounding Station KIUL-AM’s antenna structure lying on the ground. See KIUL
NAL
.
26 Steckline Communications, Inc., Notice of Violation, V201332500020 (Enf. Bur. Nov. 29, 2012).
27 47 U.S.C. § 503(b); 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.111, 0.204, 0.311, 0.314, 1.80(f)(4), 73.62, 73.1560(a), 73.1745(a), 73.3526.
28 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.
29 47 U.S.C. § 504(a).
30 An FCC Form 159 and detailed instructions for completing the form may be obtained at
http://www.fcc.gov/Forms/Form159/159.pdf.
4

Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-133

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.
10.
Any request for making 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. 20554.31 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.
10.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

that a copy of this Order shall be sent by both First Class
and Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, to Steckline Communications, Inc. at 1632 South Maize
Road, Wichita, KS 67209 and 1300 North 17th Street, 11th Floor, Arlington, VA 22209.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Dennis P. Carlton
Regional Director, South Central Region
Enforcement Bureau


31 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1914.
5

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