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Steckline Communications, Inc. (KGSO)

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Released: October 24, 2013

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-2046

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)
Steckline Communications, Inc.
)
File No.: EB-FIELDSCR-12-00005157
)
NAL/Acct. No.: 201432560001
Licensee of Station KGSO
)
FRN: 0009951286
Wichita, Kansas
)
Facility ID: 53150
)

NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY FOR FORFEITURE AND ORDER

Adopted: October 23, 2014
Released: October 24, 2013
By the District Director, Kansas City Office, South Central Region, Enforcement Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
In this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and Order (NAL), we find that Steckline
Communications, Inc. (Steckline), licensee of AM Station KGSO (Station), in Wichita, Kansas, apparently
willfully and repeatedly violated Sections 73.62, 73.1560(a), 73.1745(a), and 73.3526 of the Commission's
rules (Rules)1 by failing to maintain required directional patterns within prescribed parameters, operating
with more than authorized power, and failing to maintain and make available a complete public inspection
file. We conclude that Steckline is apparently liable for a forfeiture in the amount of twenty one thousand
dollars ($21,000). In addition, we direct Steckline to submit, no later than thirty (30) calendar days from the
date of this NAL, a statement signed under penalty of perjury stating that it is operating its Station as
authorized.

II.

BACKGROUND

2.
Station KGSO is authorized to operate with 5400 watts during the day and 1081 watts at
night.2 It is also required to utilize different directional patterns for its antenna during the day and night.3
On October 21 and 22, 2012, in response to an anonymous complaint of overpower operations, an agent
from the Enforcement Bureau's Kansas City Office (Kansas City Office) monitored the field strength of
Station KGSO's transmissions before and after sunset and before and after sunrise.4 The agent observed no
noticeable change in field strength on either day.
3.
On October 22, 2012, an agent from the Kansas City Office, accompanied by Steckline's
owner and the Station's manager, inspected the main studio and transmitter site of Station KGSO during
regular business hours. At the beginning of the inspection, the agent observed that Station KGSO's
transmitter was set to operate in daytime mode with 7638 watts output power or 141 percent of authorized
daytime power. During the inspection, the Station owner reduced Station KGSO's daytime transmitter
output power to the authorized 5400 watts. In addition, when testing the Station's transmitters in day and


1 47 C.F.R. 73.62, 73.1560(a), 73.1745(a), 73.3526.
2 See License File No. BR-2657.
3 See License File Nos. BR-2657, BS-1994A.
4 On October 21, 2012, sunset in Wichita, Kansas was 6:43 p.m. On October 22, 2012, sunrise in Wichita, Kansas
was 7:45 a.m.

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-2046

nighttime modes, the agent observed that some of the phases of the directional antenna in daytime mode
deviated by more than 3 degrees and some of the sample current ratios for both modes of operation deviated
by more than five percent from authorized values. Station management stated that the antenna monitor was
not working properly and was last known to be functional in May 2012. Station KGSO relied on automated
switching and monitoring equipment for its transmitting system and did not have an operator on duty to
make adjustments to the transmitting systems. However, no alarms occurred during the inspection when the
transmitter power and directional parameters were out of tolerance. After sunset on October 22, 2012, the
agent monitored the field strength of Station KGSO's transmissions and observed a noted decrease in signal
strength from the previous measurements.
4.
Also during that inspection, the agent from the Kansas City Office asked to inspect Station
KGSO's public inspection file. The agent observed that none of the documents that the Station called
"issues programs lists" contained any information regarding the programs aired to address the listed
community issues and that the Station had not filed any "issues programs lists" at all for the 3rd quarter of
2012.
5.
On November 8, 2012, the Kansas City Office issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to
Steckline, regarding, among other things, Station KGSO's overpower operations, its failure to take antenna
monitoring point readings, and public inspection file violations.5 On November 27, 2012, Steckline
responded to the NOV and did not deny the overpower or public inspection file violations.6 Steckline
explained that its engineer confused Station KGSO with another Steckline-owned station, Station KQAM,
and improperly programmed Station KGSO with Station KQAM's higher daytime operating power.
Steckline noted that Station KGSO used to be assigned call sign KQAM. Steckline also stated that it
determined after the inspection that the memory in its automated switching and monitoring unit had been
"tampered with and wiped out,"7 which prevented it from automatically switching the transmitter from day
to nighttime operation and from sending out alarms when the Station operated out of tolerance.8 Steckline
stated that when this defect was discovered, it began manually changing between day and nighttime
operation and reprogrammed the unit within 48 hours. Finally, Steckline stated that it was unaware of the
requirement to include lists of the programs aired, as well as the dates and times associated with those
programs, in its issues programs lists and that it had added such information to its current and previous
issues programs lists. Steckline did, however, deny that its antenna monitor was malfunctioning and
asserted an engineer had checked the antenna monitor and found it working.

III.

DISCUSSION

6.
Section 503(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act) provides that any
person who willfully or repeatedly fails to comply substantially with the terms and conditions of any license,
or willfully or repeatedly fails to comply with any of the provisions of the Act or of any rule, regulation, or
order issued by the Commission thereunder, shall be liable for a forfeiture penalty.9 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.10 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 Act,11 and the Commission has so


5 Steckline Communications, Inc., Notice of Violation, V201332560004 (Enf. Bur. Nov. 8, 2012).
6 Letter from Greg Steckline, President, Mid-America Network, to Ronald D. Ramage, District Director, Kansas
City Office, South Central Region, Enforcement Bureau, at 3 (Nov. 27, 2012).
7 Id. at 2. Steckline did not provide any information for how long the unit had been in this damaged condition.
8 Id.
9 47 U.S.C. 503(b).
10 47 U.S.C. 312(f)(1).
2

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DA 13-2046

interpreted the term in the Section 503(b) context.12 The Commission may also assess a forfeiture for
violations that are merely repeated, and not willful.13 The term "repeated" means the commission or
omission of such act more than once or for more than one day.14

A.

Failure to Operate within the Parameters of the Licenses

7.
Section 73.1745(a) of the Rules states that "[n]o broadcast station shall operate at times,
or with modes or power, other than those specified and made a part of the license, unless otherwise
provided in this part."15
i.

Operation with more than authorized power and incorrect mode

8.
Section 73.1560(a) of the Rules states that "the antenna input power of an AM station . . .
must be maintained as near as is practicable to the authorized antenna input power and may not be less
than 90% nor more than 105% of the authorized power."16 Station KGSO is authorized to operate with
5400 watts during the day and 1081 watts at night. Because Station KGSO's automated switching
equipment was not functioning and was unable to switch from day to nighttime operations without manual
intervention, Station KGSO operated with 7638 watts or 707 percent of authorized nighttime power in
daytime mode on the evening of October 21, 2012 and in the early morning hours of October 22, 2012. The
overpower operations were confirmed after the FCC inspection when the agent monitored Station KGSO
when it was operating with authorized nighttime power and found the field strength noticeably lower than
previous measurements.
9.
Steckline does not dispute that it operated Station KGSO with more than authorized power,
explaining that it mistakenly programmed Station KGSO with Station KQAM's transmitter output power.
Commission precedent, however, has established that a violator can be held liable for violations resulting
from employee mistakes.17 Based on the evidence before us, we find that Steckline apparently willfully and
repeatedly violated Sections 73.1560(a) and 73.1745(a) of the Rules by operating Station KGSO with more
than authorized power and operating in daytime mode at night.





11 H.R. Rep. No. 97-765, 97th Cong. 2d Sess. 51 (1982) ("This provision [inserted in Section 312] defines the terms
`willful' and `repeated' for purposes of section 312, and for any other relevant section of the act (e.g., Section 503)
. . . . As defined[,] . . . `willful' means that the licensee knew that he was doing the act in question, regardless of
whether there was an intent to violate the law. `Repeated' means more than once, or where the act is continuous, for
more than one day. Whether an act is considered to be `continuous' would depend upon the circumstances in each
case. The definitions are intended primarily to clarify the language in Sections 312 and 503, and are consistent with
the Commission's application of those terms . . . .").
12 See, e.g., Southern California Broadcasting Co., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 6 FCC Rcd 4387, 4388, para.
5 (1991), recons. denied, 7 FCC Rcd 3454 (1992).
13 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).
14 Section 312(f)(2) of the Act, 47 U.S.C. 312(f)(2), which also applies to violations for which forfeitures are
assessed under Section 503(b) of the Act, provides that "[t]he term `repeated', when used with reference to the
commission or omission of any act, means the commission or omission of such act more than once or, if such
commission or omission is continuous, for more than one day." See Callais Cablevision, Inc., 16 FCC Rcd at 1362,
para. 9.
15 47 C.F.R. 73.1745(a).
16 47 C.F.R. 73.1560(a).
17 See, e.g., Tidewater Communications, LLC, Order on Review, 25 FCC Rcd 1675 (2010) (citing North Country
Repeaters
, Forfeiture Order, 19 FCC Rcd 22139 (Enf. Bur. 2004)); PBJ Communications of Virginia, Inc.,
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 7 FCC Rcd 2088 (1988); Standard Communications Corp., Memorandum
Opinion and Order, 1 FCC Rcd 358 (1986).
3

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-2046

ii.

Failure to maintain directional parameters within prescribed limits

10.
Section 73.62 of the Rules states that "(a) each AM station operating a directional antenna
must maintain the relative amplitudes of the antenna currents, as indicted by the antenna monitor, within 5%
of the values specified on the instrument of authorization. Directional antenna relative phases must be
maintained within 3 degrees of the values specified on the instrument of authorization. (b) In the event of a
failure of system components, improper pattern switching or any other event that results in operation
substantially at variance from the radiation pattern specified in the instrument of authorization for the
pertinent time of day, operation must be terminated within three minutes unless power can be reduced
sufficiently to eliminate any excess radiation."18
11.
On October 22, 2012, an agent from the Kansas City Office observed that some of the
phase indications for Station KGSO's directional antenna in daytime mode deviated by more than three
degrees and some of the sample current ratios for both day and nighttime modes of operation deviated by
more than five percent from authorized values. At the time of inspection, station management claimed there
was a problem with the antenna monitor, so the agent did not consider the observed readings accurate and
cited Steckline for failing to take measurements at the monitoring points despite known problems with the
antenna monitor. Steckline denies stating that the antenna monitor was not working and asserts that the
Station's engineer resigned in May 2012 and that there had not been regular maintenance on the Station's
equipment prior to the FCC inspection. Steckline also asserts that a contract engineer inspected the antenna
monitor before the inspection and said that everything was operating correctly.19
12.
Even if the antenna monitor was operating correctly, on October 2120 and 22, 2012, Station
KGSO operated in daytime mode during the day when the phase indication for the directional antenna
deviated by more than five degrees and when current ratios deviated by more than three degrees. In other
words, Station KGSO operated substantially at variance from the authorized directional parameters and did
not check monitoring points, suspend operations, or reduce power to prevent interference. Moreover, with
no working monitoring or alarm system and no operators monitoring the station parameters, Steckline has
no evidence regarding when its directional antenna last operated within authorized parameters. Based on
the evidence before us, we find that Steckline apparently willfully and repeatedly violated Sections 73.62
and 73.1745(a) of the Rules by failing to maintain the directional parameters of its antenna within prescribed
limits.

B.

Failure to Maintain and Make Available a Complete Public Inspection File

13.
Section 73.3526(a)(2) of the Rules states that "[e]very permittee or licensee of an AM,
FM, TV or a Class A station in the commercial broadcast services shall maintain a public inspection file
containing the material" set forth in that section.21 Section 73.3526(e)(12) of the Rules states that
commercial AM and FM broadcast stations must retain in the file "every three months a list of programs
that have provided the station's most significant treatment of community issues during the preceding three
month period . . . . The lists described in this paragraph shall be retained in the public inspection file until
final action has been taken on the station's next license renewal application."22 The public inspection file


18 47 C.F.R. 73.62.
19 Steckline was unable to provide written evidence that the contract engineer inspected the antenna monitor or
confirmed that the antenna monitor was operating correctly.
20 Station KGSO was unable to switch automatically from day to nighttime mode. Thus, on October 21, 2012, it
operated in daytime mode the entire day. See supra para. 9.
21 47 C.F.R. 73.3526(a)(2).
22 47 C.F.R. 73.3526(e)(12).
4

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DA 13-2046

must be maintained at the main studio of the station,23 and must be available for public inspection at any
time during regular business hours.24
14.
On October 22, 2012, an agent from the Kansas City Office asked to inspect Station
KGSO's public inspection file during regular business hours. The public inspection file provided 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. The "issues programs lists" only contained lists of community issues, as opposed to lists of the
programming the Station had aired on those issues. In response to the NOV, Steckline stated that it did not
realize that its issues programs lists should contain such information and that it has since supplemented
those lists. Based on the evidence before us, we find that Steckline apparently willfully and repeatedly
violated Section 73.3526 of the Rules by failing to maintain a complete public inspection file for Station
KGSO and apparently willfully violated Section 73.3526 by failing to make available a complete public
inspection file for Station KGSO.

C. Proposed Forfeiture and Reporting Requirement

15.
Pursuant to the Commission's Forfeiture Policy Statement and Section 1.80 of the Rules,
the base forfeiture amount for exceeding power limits is $4,000, for failure to maintain directional pattern
within prescribed parameters is $7,000, and for violation of public file rules is $10,000.25 In assessing the
monetary forfeiture amount, we must also take into account the statutory factors set forth in Section
503(b)(2)(E) of the Act, which include the nature, circumstances, extent, and gravity of the violations, 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.26 Applying the Forfeiture Policy Statement, Section 1.80 of the Rules,
and the statutory factors to the instant case, we conclude that Steckline is apparently liable for a total
forfeiture in the amount of $21,000, consisting of the following: $4,000 for the overpower operation,
$7,000 for failure to maintain the directional pattern within prescribed limits, and $10,000 for failure to
maintain and make available a complete public inspection file.
16.
We further order Steckline to submit a written statement, pursuant to Section 1.16 of the
Rules,27 signed under penalty of perjury by an officer or director of Steckline, stating that it is operating its
Station within authorized power levels and directional parameters. This statement must be provided to the
Kansas City Office at the address listed in paragraph 19 within thirty (30) calendar days of the release date
of this NAL.

IV.

ORDERING CLAUSES

17.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to Section 503(b) of the Communications
Act of 1934, as amended, and Sections 0.111, 0.311, 0.314 and 1.80 of the Commission's rules, Steckline
Communications, Inc. is hereby

NOTIFIED

of this

APPARENT LIABILITY FOR A 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.28


23 47 C.F.R. 73.3526(b).
24 47 C.F.R. 73.3526(c).
25 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) (Forfeiture Policy Statement), recons. denied,
15 FCC Rcd 303 (1999); 47 C.F.R. 1.80.
26 47 U.S.C. 503(b)(2)(E).
27 47 C.F.R. 1.16.
28 47 U.S.C. 503(b), 47 C.F.R. 0.111, 0.311, 0.314, 1.80, 73.62, 73.1560(a), 73.1745(a), and 73.3526.
5

Federal Communications Commission

DA 13-2046

18.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

that, pursuant to Section 1.80 of the Commission's rules,
within thirty (30) calendar days of the release date of this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and
Order, Steckline Communications, Inc.

SHALL PAY

the full amount of the proposed forfeiture or

SHALL
FILE

a written statement seeking reduction or cancellation of the proposed forfeiture.
19.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

that Steckline Communications, Inc.

SHALL SUBMIT

a written statement, as described in paragraph 16, within thirty (30) calendar days of the release date of
this Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture and Order. The statement must be mailed to Federal
Communications Commission, Enforcement Bureau, South Central Region, Kansas City Office, 520 N.E.
Colbern Rd., 2nd Floor, Lees Summit, MO 64086-4711. Steckline Communications, Inc. shall also e-mail
the written statement to SCR-Response@fcc.gov.
20.
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. Steckline
Communications, Inc. shall also send electronic notification on the date said payment is made to SCR-
Response@fcc.gov. Regardless of the form of payment, a completed FCC Form 159 (Remittance
Advice) must be submitted.29 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:
Y
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.
Y
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.
Y
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.
21.
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. 20554.30 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.
22.
The written statement seeking reduction or cancellation of the proposed forfeiture, if any,
must include a detailed factual statement supported by appropriate documentation and affidavits pursuant
to Sections 1.16 and 1.80(f)(3) of the Rules.31 Mail the written statement to Federal Communications
Commission, Enforcement Bureau, South Central Region, Kansas City Office, 520 N.E. Colbern Rd., 2nd


29 An FCC Form 159 and detailed instructions for completing the form may be obtained at
http://www.fcc.gov/Forms/Form159/159.pdf.
30 See 47 C.F.R. 1.1914.
31 47 C.F.R. 1.16, 1.80(f)(3).
6

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DA 13-2046

Floor, Lees Summit, MO 64086-4711, and include the NAL/Acct. No. referenced in the caption. Steckline
Communications, Inc. also shall email the written response to SCR-Response@fcc.gov.
23.
The Commission will not consider reducing or canceling a forfeiture in response to a claim
of inability to pay unless the petitioner 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 petitioner's current financial status.
Any claim of inability to pay must specifically identify the basis for the claim by reference to the financial
documentation submitted.
24.

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED

that a copy of this Notice of Apparent Liability for
Forfeiture and Order shall be sent by both Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, and First Class Mail 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
Ronald D. Ramage
District Director
Kansas City Office
South Central Region
Enforcement Bureau
7

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