The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has imposed an $18,000 fine against Entravision Communications after one of its stations failed to file certain documents in its public inspection file on a regular basis.
Those documents include public interest reports and information on the airing of children’s programming, as required by a licensed broadcaster.
The issue arose after Entravision filed an application for the renewal of its broadcast license for Washington, D.C.-area TV station WJAL (Channel 68), which is affiliated with New York-based NTD Television. The network is owned by Epoch Media Group, which also operates the Epoch Times newspaper.
The FCC says WJAL “willfully and repeatedly” failed to file timely reports on the types of children’s-related programming it aired, as well as whether the television station broadcast any segments in the public interest. Both are a condition of operating a licensed television station.
The reports were ultimately sent to the FCC for placement in the station’s public inspection file, but were delivered between one month and one year late, the agency said. The station did not file timely reports for 14 consecutive quarters, or nearly three years, the FCC said.
Station officials apparently told the FCC that it experienced confusion over its requirement to file the reports due to a reverse-auction process that the agency was undertaking. At that time, WJAL surrendered its use of radio spectrum assigned to Channel 68 and moved its signal to a digital channel on the signal of CBS affiliate WUSA (Channel 9).
Entravision has committed to ensuring WJAL files timely reports in the future, but the FCC affirmed it was still on the hook for $18,000 in fines for not filing the documents in a timely manner in the first place.
“We note that inadvertence is, at beast, ignorance of the law, which the commission does not consider a mitigating circumstance,” the FCC said in its order issued on Monday. “Furthermore, the commission was abundantly clear that under a channel-sharing arrangement, each licensee maintains its own individual license and has an independent obligation to comply with all pertinent statutory requirements and our rules.”
Entravision has 30 days to file an objection or request for a reduction in the fine. Otherwise, the FCC expects the broadcaster to cut it a check for the full $18,000 within the next month.