K-MOVIE NCE Broadcaster Fined $9K For Issues/Programs Report Violations -...

NCE Broadcaster Fined $9K For Issues/Programs Report Violations – Broadcasting: Film, TV & Radio


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There are certain regulatory “perks” to being a
non-commercial educational (NCE) broadcaster, such as not paying
regulatory fees. There are also certain regulatory drawbacks
(looking at you, underwriting rules). One thing in which NCE and
commercial broadcasters share equally, however, is the obligation
to compile and file quarterly issues/programs reports describing
station programming that addresses community issues. Failure to
comply, even when there is no allegation that the station did not
actually air issue-responsive programming, can be costly.

On November 6, 2023, the Media Bureau’s Video Division
issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for $9,000 against
Puget Sound Educational TV, Inc., licensee of NCE television
station KWDK in Tacoma, Washington. The Federal Communications
Commission (FCC) found that Puget Sound willfully and repeatedly
violated the Commission’s rules by failing to timely file 12
issues/programs reports. Specifically, the Video Division found
that Puget Sound filed seven reports more than one year late, four
reports between one month and one year late, and one report between
one day and one month late. Puget Sound attributed the deficiencies
to “simple administrative oversight,” which (predictably)
the Video Division found insufficient to excuse the violations. The
late-filed reports were disclosed in KWDK’s license renewal
application, and staff also conducted their own investigation to

Under FCC rules, NCE and commercial radio and television
stations must create a report on a quarterly basis that describes
station programming addressing community issues. The report must be
uploaded to the station’s online public inspection file by the
10th day of the month following the end of the quarter (e.g.,
January 10, April 10, July 10, and October 10). The reports must
include the time, date, duration, and title of each program along
with a brief description of the program. The FCC has not created a
specific form that must be filed nor specified the number of
issues/programs that must be reported (although we typically
recommend identifying at least 5 to 10 each quarter). The FCC also
has given licensees considerable discretion in choosing the mix of
news, public affairs and other informational programming they air,
but expects a station to make “reasonable” judgments in
deciding what issues to cover. Despite this relatively flexible
approach, repeated failure to file is likely to result in a

Stephanie Rigizadeh, a law clerk in the Telecom, Media &
Technology Practice, contributed to this alert.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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