Not So Fine


Don Davis, owner of KKJY-AM in Albuquerque, is protesting the way the Federal Communications Commission imposes its penalties. "The kind of fines a company like Infinity winks at would just kill me," Davis tells Radio & Records, arguing that the system as it's set up favors bigger broadcasters over smaller ones.

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  1. A related issue is how small- and medium-sized businesses make easier targets for federal regulators. I can’t speak to the FCC, but I know the Federal Trade Commission expressly targets businesses based on their ability to contest allegations; the result is you’ll see the FTC prosecute a woman making $30,000/yr. (true story) while taking a pass on larger companies that will actually fight back. Not that I advocate regulation of larger companies; the point is regulations publicly designed to reign in “big business” are far more likely to affect smaller firms. Agencies are generally more concerned with their victory rates–more settlements means more federal dollars–than trying to actually enforce the law as intended.

  2. The same thing could be said about any monetary fine. Speeding or parking tickets can mean several extra weeks of ramen or perhaps (in extreme cases) even dropping out to a person working part-time to put themself through school. But to a fairly well off professional, it’s nothing more than an annoyance, unless there’s also points. Even these can be bought away in some places by paying for special driving classes and spending a few evenings being bored.

    Lesson: The less you have, the more careful you should be.


    If you make more money, you don’t have to worry about as much shit. So work hard, stay in school.

  3. Additional lesson: Be born rich.

  4. …and work only for large companies.

    Hey Jesse!? What’s with the link? I can’t find the story you posted over. Even if it’s there it’s a tree in a forest

  5. Chthus: The problem is that the fines are now being designed with the resources of companies like Infinity in mind. It’s as though there were a problem with Rockefellers speeding, and so the city decided to raise the penalty for speeding to a level where “at least it’ll make those plutocrats squirm a little.”

  6. Here’s the story, Warren:

    Broadcaster Asks Congress To Tackle FCC Fine Structure

    KKJY/Albuquerque owner Don Davis sent a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain to express concern that the FCC’s existing fine structure unfairly punishes small broadcasters. “The kind of fines a company like Infinity winks at would just kill me,” Davis tells R&R, who says he’d like to see the fine structure altered so larger broadcasters with higher revenue would be subject to larger fines than smaller broadcasters with fewer resources. While he isn’t facing a forfeiture, Davis notes that a $21,000 fine imposed on March 17 against broadcaster Henry Tafoya ? who owns KDEF/Albuquerque ? illustrates the point. After noting that Tafoya regularly covers local sports and hosts the station’s morning show each day, Davis says that while all licensees should be subject to enforcement action, factors like a station’s history of public service should also be considered. “The FCC is using a sledgehammer to kill a fly,” he says. For his part, Tafoya tells R&R that he intends to address the fine, which KDEF is facing for failing to set up proper monitoring procedures and failing to maintain a staff presence at the station. “I’m going to have to take care of it,” he says. “I love my work very much.”

  7. Anon 1030:

    Or just high enough that the Rockefellers can enjoy having the road to themselves.

  8. If the owner of the radio station in Albuquerque can’t afford to pay the fines, he should simply not pay them. If the FCC comes after him, he should just tell the FCC that he can’t give them what he doesn’t have.

    Or, maybe he shouldn’t have done the behavior that resulted in the fine in the first place.

  9. Baretta said, “Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time.” (But does Baretta speak for Robert Blake, or even vice versa 🙂

    Hey B- I completely agree with what you said. But that’s precisely why I think that we have to be very careful in defining crimes; and that we should probably not define so many of them.

    I believe in respect for the law. But in order for the law to be respected, it has to be respectable. I can respect a law that prohibits one person from harming another, or that authorizes punishment or restitution when it can be shown that one person has harmed another. I can’t respect a law that is based on the ethic of “obey because we say so, or you’ll be sorry.”

    Every one of us reading this is probably “guilty” of something that would result in a fine and perhaps even a police record, if the law were completely enforced, and most of us are probably unaware of our transgression, because whatever we did or didn’t do was not done with the intention of harming anyone, and NOBODY GOT (OR COULD GET) HURT.

    I could respect an FCC fine for actual interference to another user of the radio spectrum. But what do you want to bet that the fines that Mr. Davis objects to, are simply punishments for failing to toe the FCC’s line? “Failure to set up proper monitoring procedures,” and “Failure to maintain a staff presence at the station…” Give me a break! This kind of bureaucratic power-tripping is simply not respectable.

  10. James, I agree with you re: discretionary enforcement. This entire episode smacks of oppressing the little guy in order to force him out. But the little guy has to know this is the case going in, doesn’t he? Thats why, sadly, he needs to toe the line a little more closely.

  11. Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time.

  12. EMAIL:
    DATE: 01/20/2004 12:17:32
    To be a human without passion is to be dead.

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