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FCC Rejects Petition vs. KTHV

The Federal Communications Commission's Media Bureau rejected a petition to deny the license renewal of Gannett Broadcasting's KTHV (TV) Little Rock, Ark., saying its broadcast of a show the FCC ultimately ruled indecent and levied its then-largest fine for was not a "serious" violation, or at least not as the case was made by the petitioner asking for denial.

The commission said the petitioner, Chad Meli, "[did] not state specifically that station KTHV (TV) has failed to serve the public interest during the license period in question. Thus, we find that the limited, general allegations contained in the petition to deny are insufficient to show that grant of the license-renewal application would be prima facie inconsistent with the public interest."

Those allegations had to do with the station's airing of a Dec. 31, 2004, episode of CBS’ Without a Trace and Meli's claim that the station did not post complaints about the show in its public file.

Gannet countered that there had been no complaints about the broadcast to post in its files and that it was not indecent anyway.

Actually, the FCC thought differently and in March 2006 levied a $3.6 million fine against a host of stations, including KTHV (TV). But the FCC's Media Bureau concluded that since the complaints were filed at the FCC, not with the station, KTHV’s empty complaint file was OK.

It also said, "While the airing of the material in question justified imposition of an apparent monetary forfeiture, based on the limited showing provided in the petition, we cannot find that the violation was ‘serious’ or evidenced a ‘pattern of abuse’ on the part of Arkansas Television."