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Steckline Communications, Inc.

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Released: July 31, 2014
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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-1087

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of

)

)

Steckline Communications, Inc.

)

File No.: EB-FIELDSCR-13-00008450

)

NAL/Acct. No.: 2013325600006

Licensee of Station KYUL-AM

)

FRN: 0009951286

Scott City, KS

)

Facility ID No.: 71854

FORFEITURE ORDER

Adopted: July 31, 2014

Released: July 31, 2014

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

I. INTRODUCTION

1.

We impose a penalty of $20,000 against Steckline Communications, Inc. (Steckline) for

failing to operate a fully staffed main studio as well as maintain and make available a complete public

inspection file. Steckline does not dispute the violations, but requests a forfeiture reduction based on certain

purported economic and competitive disadvantages. None of the arguments presented by Steckline,

however, present a sufficient basis to reduce the forfeiture and we deny its request.

2.

Specifically, we issue a monetary forfeiture to Steckline, licensee of Station KYUL-AM in

Scott City, Kansas (Station), for willfully and repeatedly violating Sections 73.1125(a) and 73.3526 of the

Commission’s rules (Rules).1

II.

BACKGROUND

3.

On July 12, 2012, an agent from the Enforcement Bureau’s Kansas City Office (Kansas

City Office) attempted to inspect the Station’s main studio, but was unable to locate one in Scott City,

Kansas or the immediate environs. The agent located the Station’s public inspection file at a Scott City

insurance agency, but the file contained no documents dated after 2009. On May 6, 2013, the Kansas City

Office issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture (NAL) to Steckline proposing a $20,000

forfeiture against it for main studio staffing and public inspection file violations.2 In its NAL Response,

Steckline does not deny any of the facts set forth in the NAL, but requests a reduction to the proposed

forfeiture.3 Steckline claims that it serves a small market and would face competitive disadvantages if it

is required to fully staff the Station’s main studio.4

III.

DISCUSSION

4.

As Steckline does not deny any of the facts in the NAL, we affirm the NAL’s findings and

conclude that Steckline willfully and repeatedly violated Sections 73.1125(a) and 73.3526 of the Rules by

1 47 C.F.R. §§ 73.1125(a), 73.3526.

2 Steckline Communications, Inc., Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, 28 FCC Rcd 6168 (Enf. Bur. 2013).

A comprehensive recitation of the facts and history of this case can be found in the NAL and is incorporated herein

by reference.

3 Letter from Greg Steckline, President, Steckline Communications, Inc., to Kansas City Office, South Central

Region, Enforcement Bureau at 1 (June 3, 2013) (on file in EB-FIELDSCR-13-00008450) (NAL Response).

4

Id.

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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-1087

failing to operate a fully staffed main studio as well as maintain and make available a complete public

inspection file.

5.

The proposed forfeiture amount in this case was assessed in accordance with Section

503(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act),5 Section 1.80 of the Rules,6 and the

Forfeiture Policy Statement.7 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.8 As discussed below, we have considered

Steckline’s NAL Response in light of these statutory factors and find that a reduction of the forfeiture is

unwarranted.

6.

In its NAL Response, Steckline does not deny that the Station did not have a main studio at

the time of the inspection or that the Station’s main studio had been completely unstaffed since April 2011.9

Rather, Steckline argues that a reduction is warranted because the economic climate of the small rural

market it served rendered it impossible to maintain a main studio in Scott City staffed with qualified

professionals.10 We find this argument unpersuasive. Section 73.1125(a) does not provide an exception to

the main studio rule based on perceived staffing shortages. More importantly, Steckline not only failed to

have a “meaningful” staff presence at the Station’s main studio, it failed to have any staff presence at the

Station’s main studio for over a year.11

Perhaps Steckline intended to assert that it was unable financially to

maintain a fully staffed main studio in Scott City, but it failed to provide any financial documentation to

support this claim, so we are unable to determine whether a forfeiture reduction based on inability to pay is

warranted.

7.

We also do not find persuasive Steckline’s argument that maintaining a main studio would

place the station at a competitive disadvantage. At the outset, we note that competitive disadvantage alone

is not one of the downward forfeiture adjustment criteria specified in the Act or Rules.12 We also note that

licensees may request waivers of the main studio rule when “special circumstances warrant a deviation from

the general rule and such deviation is in the public interest.”13 After the inspection, Steckline requested a

waiver of the main studio requirement on July 26, 2012, which was denied by the Media Bureau.14 The

Media Bureau found that Steckline’s situation differed from the circumstances faced by two nearby TV

stations that received main studio waivers. The Media Bureau reasoned that Steckline’s request was

“predicated primarily on the benefits of economic efficiencies, i.e., the use of an existing studio and staff in

Garden City,” and Commission precedent has held that “financial considerations are not a valid basis for a

5 47 U.S.C. § 503(b).

6 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.

7 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).

8 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(E).

9 NAL, 28 FCC Rcd at 6168–69, para. 3.

10 NAL Response at 1. Steckline did not specifically address the public inspection file violation.

11 NAL, 28 FCC Rcd at 6170, para. 5.

12 See 47 U.S.C. § 503(b)(2)(E); 47 C.F.R. § 1.80(b)(8), Section II.

13 See Letter from Peter H. Doyle, Chief, Audio Division, Media Bureau, to James P. Reily, Esq., Fletcher, Heald &

Hildreth, PLC at 2 (Dec. 13, 2012) (on file in EB-FIELDSCR-13-00008450).

14 Id.

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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-1087

commercial radio station to receive a waiver of the main studio rule.”15 Thus, the Media Bureau concluded

that Steckline failed to meet the burden necessary to receive a waiver of the main studio rule. However,

even if the waiver was granted and Steckline subsequently staffed the Station’s main studio, such corrective

action taken after an inspection is expected and does not warrant reduction or cancellation of the proposed

forfeiture.16 Therefore, we find no basis to reduce the forfeiture on these grounds. Based on the evidence

before us, we conclude that Steckline willfully and repeatedly violated Sections 73.1125(a) and 73.3526 of

the Rules by failing to (1) have a fully staffed main studio and (2) maintain and make available a complete

public inspection file, warranting a forfeiture of $20,000.

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 thousand dollars ($20,000) for violations

of Section 73.1125(a) and 73.3526 of the Rules.17

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 Forfeiture Order.18

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.19

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.20 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

15 Id. at 3.

16 See, e.g., Int’l Broad. Corp., Order on Review, 25 FCC Rcd 1538, 1540, para. 6 (2010) (“To reduce the forfeiture

as requested would be to reward postponement of compliance with the Rules until after a Commission inspection.

We find such an approach contrary to the public interest.”); Seawest Yacht Brokers, Forfeiture Order, 9 FCC Rcd

6099, 6099, para. 7 (1994) (“[C]orrective action taken to come into compliance with Commission rules or policy is

expected, and does not nullify or mitigate any prior forfeitures or violations.”); see also Mattoon Broad. Co.,

Forfeiture Order, 29 FCC Rcd 2925 (Enf. Bur. 2014); Catholic Radio Network of Loveland, Inc., Forfeiture Order,

29 FCC Rcd 121 (Enf Bur. 2014); Argos Net, Inc., Forfeiture Order, 28 FCC Rcd 1126 (Enf. Bur. 2013).

17 47 U.S.C. § 503(b); 47 C.F.R. §§ 0.111, 0.204, 0.311, 0.314, 1.80(f)(4), 73.1125(a), 73.3526.

18 47 C.F.R. § 1.80.

19 47 U.S.C. § 504(a).

20 An FCC Form 159 and detailed instructions for completing the form may be obtained at

http://www.fcc.gov/Forms/Form159/159.pdf.

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Federal Communications Commission

DA 14-1087

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.

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.

20554.21 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.

11.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Forfeiture Order shall be sent by both

First Class and Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, to Steckline Communications, Inc. at 1632 S.

Maize Rd., Wichita, KS 67209, and to its attorney, James P. Riley at Fletcher, Heald and Hildreth, 1300

North 17th Street, 11th Floor, Arlington, VA 22209.

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

Dennis P. Carlton

Regional Director, South Central Region

Enforcement Bureau

21 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.1914.

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