Chicago translator survives license challenge, but FCC fines $9,000. | story

Religious broadcaster Centro Cristiano de Vida Eterna will pay a $9,000 fine as part of a consent decree, but it may retain a Chicago-market FM translator that has come under federal scrutiny Communications Committee. The review focused on whether the Chicago-licensed W252AW at 98.3 FM took too long to build, then went silent for over 30 days without notifying the FCC, in addition to be on the air when the AM it was simulcasting was not.

The investigation began when the FCC received an informal objection, filed by Albert David, to the granting of a new license to Centro Cristiano. He told the Media Office that when he was in the Translator’s coverage area in March 2021, the Translator went one year without service, something that would lead to automatic license expiration.

But the religious broadcaster says the signal did in fact come back on the air, but with less power. He also says he did not follow a regular operating schedule, which is permissible. Centro Cristiano also pushed back against allegations that the translator failed to meet the station’s identification requirements.

David also alleged that W252AW was on the air when its main station was in the dark. Centro Cristiano admitted in his response that this happened, and also told the FCC that the translator would “unmute or stay on the air due to occasional bursts of static electricity” during electrical storms.

But David said he heard the lineup – not static. To this, Centro Cristiano said the translator was set up to receive “The Real” WRLL (1450) Spanish talk programming via an internet stream that continued even when the AM went off the air. He insisted that it was not original programming nor produced in any way by the translator.

In his review of a case, Audio Division Chief Albert Shuldiner dismissed claims that the Translator was never built, never resumed operations, and falsely claimed it was silent due to transmitter problems. He also rejected the claim that the translator did not resume operations before a year of silence and failed to meet the station’s identification requirements.

On the contrary, the problem for Centro Cristiano was that it continued to broadcast on the translator even when WRLL was not on the air. That he was pulling the programming off the internet only came to light after his first explanation of the storm’s issues didn’t hold up. Shuldiner said Centro Cristiano failed to monitor its broadcast, which resulted in periods of continuous operation while the main station was off the air. And he also failed to notify the FCC that he was broadcasting while the primary station was off the air.

Under a consent decree signed by Centro Cristiano and the FCC, the broadcaster agreed to pay the $9,000 fine. And the FCC agreed to give the translator a new license. “We conclude that nothing in the record before us creates a substantial or material question of fact as to whether the Licensee has the basic qualifications to be licensed by the Commission,” Shuldiner wrote. in the decision.