FCC Sues Florida Licensee Over Allegedly False 'New Entrant' Credit Claim In FM Auction Bid
June 20, 2016 at 3:58 AM (PT)
The FCC is suing a FLORIDA station's licensee for fraud, alleging that CESTA NEWMAN's application received a 35% "new entrant bidding" credit in FM auction 62 for being a woman-owned business but that her NEWMAN BROADCASTING (formerly ABC MEDIA) was instead controlled by her late husband JOHN, owner of NEWMAN MEDIA, misrepresenting the relationship between the applicant and the existing group owner so that JOHN NEWMAN "could avoid paying the full value of the license."
The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, asserts that CESTA NEWMAN told the Commission that JOHN NEWMAN and NEWMAN MEDIA, owners of Hot AC WNFB (MIX 94.3) and Country WDSR-A (THE FALCON)/LAKE CITY, FL, had no control or attributable interest in News-Talk WJTK (THE JET)/COLUMBIA CITY-LAKE CITY, FL, but the Commission believes that the representations were untruthful and that, according to witnesses, JOHN NEWMAN "essentially ran all three stations," making personnel decisions, setting ad rates, and conducting staff meetings, and the stations shared staff, management, and sales. In addition, CESTA NEWMAN was listed as VP and/or Secretary of NEWMAN MEDIA in state documents.
The FCC is seeking recovery of $910,700 plus between $5,500 and $11,000 for each false claim and treble damages. The winning bid submitted by NEWMAN BROADCASTING was $2,602,000.