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HomeNewsArchivesFEDS SET TO REVOKE WSTX RADIO’S LICENSE

FEDS SET TO REVOKE WSTX RADIO’S LICENSE

Aug. 9, 2001 – The Federal Communications Commission has revoked the permit for WSTX radio, a move that station owner Gerard Luz James said he will appeal.
In a summary decision released by FCC Administrative Law Judge Richard Sippel on Tuesday, Sippel said that James and WSTX manager Barbara James-Petersen, James’s daughter, perpetrated "willful violations that justify the remedy of revocation."
WSTX filed a petition with the FCC on March 15 to reconsider the revocation after the regulatory agency accused the station of "willfully and repeatedly" violating federal broadcast law. WSTX is owned by Family Broadcasting, which until recently was owned by James. With the FCC investigating the station, James turned over his controlling interest in the company to James-Petersen.
In its request, Family Broadcasting sought the reconsideration so that it could correct an array of deficiencies at its AM and FM stations.
But the FCC dismissed Family Broadcasting’s request last month, paving the way for proceedings to determine whether the stations’ licenses should be revoked. The FCC charged that Family Broadcasting misrepresented the facts when it said the FM station transmitter had been relocated from Blue Mountain, the licensed site, to Fort Louise Augusta, the licensed site of the AM transmitter, because of damage at the original site from Hurricane Lenny.
The FCC said it had determined that the transmitter was relocated because the owner of the Blue Mountain site had not been paid rent. Family Broadcasting violated FCC rules that require permission to deviate from the terms of a broadcast license. The FCC also charged that Family Broadcasting failed to operate the transmitters for both stations at authorized levels, failed to secure the sites of the transmitters, failed to maintain inspection files, and had no Emergency Alert System.
In his decision, Sippel said that from 1997 to 2000, after four on-site inspections, James either failed to respond to, or answered untruthfully, multiple requests for information. In 1998, in an effort to correct an eroding situation, James-Petersen became the station manager.
"The evidence overwhelmingly supports findings and conclusions of serious violations," Sippel wrote in his decision: "First, there is an established pattern of a lack of candor. In two separate responses to the commission, Family falsely stated that its move to an unauthorized location occurred because a hurricane had damaged its authorized facilities, thus warranting the move.
"However, Family knew that its move from its authorized site did not result from hurricane damage but followed eviction for unpaid rent. Thus, Family's statements blaming Hurricane Lenny or Hurricane Marilyn were false and were known by Luz James to be false. Accordingly, the evidence shows that Family intentionally and repeatedly misrepresented material facts."
James, meanwhile, called the judge’s findings "untrue" while on the air Tuesday evening.
"The moment we receive a signed document from the administrative law judge, we will file an appeal," James said. "I'm certain everything is going to go well."
Sippel noted that evidence showed that under James's control, which included a period of time when James-Petersen was station manager, there were "willful violations that justify the remedy of revocation."
"Her past performance does not instill a confidence that she can bring the stations into full compliance in the future," Sippel said. "For purposes of this summary decision, the repeated wrongdoings and intentional untruths of Luz James cannot be confidently corrected in the future by a dubious assignment of control to children who will need to rely on the continuing financial generosity and wherewithal of [Asta James] the wife of Luz James."

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