FCC To Fine TV Station The Maximum For Indecency During Newscast
March 23, 2015 at 12:06 PM (PT)
The FCC has announced that it plans to fine SCHURZ COMMUNICATIONS (WDBJ TELEVISION, INC.) CBS affiliate WDBJ-TV/ROANOKE, VA the maximum $325,000 for airing indecent material during its evening newscast.
WDBJ aired a video clip from a porn film website during its 6p (ET) newscast on JULY 12th, 2012, illustrating a story about an adult film star who had joined a local fire department and rescue squad with, "specifically, a video image of a hand stroking an erect penis" that appeared on the box for a video shown on the website; the clip ran for three seconds. The station told the Commission that the images on the website were not visible when the video was in the editing bay, but the Commission cited the comment of the photojournalist who had obtained the video that he "did not notice the small ‘boxes’ at the right of screen showing other films available from the distributor" in asserting that he never said the boxes were not visible but merely that he did not notice them.
WDBJ also argued that the remand of the indecency rules in 2013 should bar the imposition of the rules under question in court, but the Commission said that the PACIFICA indecency case is still valid, the court challenge related to other issues, and the rules are constitutional. "Broadcasters are trustees of the public airwaves," the Commission wrote,
"and we believe that parents should be able to tune into an early evening broadcast without fear that it will expose their children to sexually explicit or other indecent material. We therefore decline WDBJ’s invitation to invalidate our indecency policies on constitutional grounds."
Enforcement Bureau Chief TRAVIS LEBLANC said, “Our action here sends a clear signal that there are severe consequences for TV stations that air sexually explicit images when children are likely to be watching."
The Commission issued two indecency actions in 2014, both settled in Consent Decrees, one in APRIL with HAL GINSBURG's KRXA, LLC, licensee of Talk KRXA-A/CARMEL VALLEY, CA, for $15,000 to settle sponsorship ID and indecency allegations centered on paid programming, and the other in AUGUST with BORDER MEDIA BUSINESS TRUST Regional Mexican KBDR (LA LEY 100.5)/MIRANDO CITY-LAREDO, TX for $37,500 over explicit comments by host DANNY BOY.
Operating Satellite Earth Station Without Notifying Commission Draws Fine, Too
In addition, satellite religious broadcaster LIFE ON THE WAY COMMUNICATIONS, INC. has been fined $18,000 by the FCC for operating domestic fixed satellite service earth station E970117/VAN NUYS, CA without Commission authority for over eight years and has been admonished for taking over the license without Commission approval. The earth station was acquired and operated for several years before LIFE ON THE WAY filed for an STA in 2012.
LIFE ON THE WAY asked for the fine and admonishment to be canceled because the FCC did not act within a year and because the violations were not shown to be intentional, but the FCC said that its action was within the statute of limitations and intent is not an issue.
Sidemounting FM Antenna Draws FCC Notice, Show Cause Order
And the Commission has slapped LKCM RADIO LICENSES, LLP with a show cause order, asking the licensee to tell it why Country KFWR (95.9 THE RANCH)/JACKSBORO, TX's license should not be modified to change it to directional operation with a requisite reduction in power. LAKE COUNTRY RADIO Class A Country KCKL/MALAKOFF, TX complained to the Commission that KFWR, which had been granted an upgrade from Class C1 at MINERAL WELLS, TX to Class C0 at JACKSBORO, had improperly sidemounted its antenna throwing more power (calculated at 262.4 kw horizontally polarized, 274.5 kw vertical) in its direction (and towards DALLAS-FT. WORTH), interfering with its signal. The Commission ruled that even with a nominally non-directional antenna, mounting the antenna in such a way as to intentionally distort the coverage requires licensing as a directional antenna, and that KFWR needs to show why it should not reduce transmitter power output from 25 kw to 9.1 kw to maintain the licensed Class C0 100kw ERP.