Overpowered Mexican Stations Fined

A California broadcaster faces a $20,000 fine and possibly much worse for providing programming to three Mexican stations that generated massive interference for more than one-dozen AM stations in the Western United States.

The FCC last week proposed fining Pacific Spanish because the Mexican stations it runs were operating at higher power levels and, in one case, a different channel, than approved by U.S. officials. A 1986 treaty requires Mexican and U.S. governments to coordinate technical details for TV and radio stations operating along their border.

The interference had required the intervention of an FCC commissioner, several senior staffer, an ambassador and many months to resolve.

Pacific Spanish President Jaime Bonilla told the FCC he was unaware that the stations were violating the treaty, but U.S. officials didn’t buy his explanation. Bonilla, it seems, is also a director (and his wife the controlling shareholder) of the three outlets’ management company.

Paying the $20,000 fine might not be enough to get Bonilla out of hot water. He faces a petition from Disney and other owners of stations that suffered the interference asking the FCC to strip Pacific and other companies he controls of licenses to three U.S. radio stations.