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FCC Shows Mercy on Station whose Missing Reports were Taken to the Grave

KXEODisgruntled employees can be a big problem for many organizations. I remember hearing rumors that a pissed-off worker at an advertising agency where I worked set a credenza on fire. Thankfully nobody was hurt. In the world of radio, irked insiders have filed complaints with the FCC and messed with station public files.

An extreme example of this was brought to light in a recent renewal application for commercial radio stations KXEO-AM and KWWR-FM. In a Notice of Apparent Liability issued by the FCC, it’s revealed that the Mexico, Missouri stations’ former, long-time (32 years!) General Manager absconded with 6+ years-worth of Quarterly Issues and Program Reports when he left the stations in 2010. According to an explanation provided by the current station staff, “…when the former GM left, he took the issues and programs files with him and offered to supply them back to the station for $100,000…The former GM has since passed.”

Although the FCC acknowledged that the stations violated the rules by not maintaining all required elements in their public files, it did opt to reduce the proposed forfeiture amount considering the circumstances. The FCC’s Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture states, “In this case, Licensee indicates that the required items were prepared and placed in the public inspection files but were subsequently removed by the former general manager upon his less-than amicable departure from the Stations. Although the violations were extensive, occurring over a period of nearly six years –from 2004 through September 2010 -and involving at least 20 issues/programs lists, taking into consideration these facts and all of the factors required by Section 503(b)(2)(D) of the Act and the Forfeiture Policy Statement, we reduce the proposed forfeiture from the $10,000 base amount to $1,000 for the public file violations at each Station.”

Regardless of the circumstances, this case is a good reminder for stations to keep back-up copies of important documents and files.

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