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FCC fines Florida radio company over lack of emergency alert gear

The logo of low-power FM radio station WJUP-LP.
(Image courtesy Jupiter Community Radio, Graphic by The Desk)

The owner of a low-power radio station in Florida has been hit with a $25,000 fine after federal regulators say it did not have equipment capable of receiving and transmitting emergency messages as required by law.

On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said it was moving forward with the fine two years after it proposed it against Jupiter Community Radio, the operator of low-power FM radio station WJUP-LP (103.9).

The issue dates back to February 2020 when agents with the FCC’s enforcement arm used direction-finding equipment to see if WJUP-LP was transmitting a stronger signal than what was allowed through their low-power frequency. The following month, FCC agents visited the radio station and noticed that the company didn’t appear to have any equipment capable of receiving or transmitting messages sent through the Emergency Alert System (EAS).

After the agents expressed concerns over the lack of EAS equipment, a Jupiter employee reportedly told the FCC that an EAS decoder and transmitter was installed at a local church where another radio station was operating. A few months later, executives at Jupiter provided EAS logs that they claimed were associated with WJUP-LP, but which agents later realize were associated with the other radio station located at the church.

In October 2020, the FCC proposed a $25,000 fine against Jupiter for failing to install and maintain EAS equipment and for misleading regulators during their inspection of the radio station. Jupiter never denied the allegations, according to the FCC, but took issue with the proposed fine after it promised to make changes at WJUP-LP.

This week, the FCC said Jupiter’s reasoning for reducing or disposing of the fine wasn’t good enough, and the agency is moving forward with the financial penalty.

“The Commission has long held that a licensee’s remedial steps taken in response to an enforcement action are not a reason to reduce a [fine],” the FCC said in a public notice published on Thursday, adding that Jupiter still has yet to demonstrate that it has taken any substantial steps to fix the problem.

The FCC says Jupiter has 30 days to pay the fine.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).