Oahu TV station punished for lack of studio and public access
A LOW-POWER Honolulu TV station has been hit with a $5,600 Federal Communications Commission penalty for failing to maintain a main studio here.
KHLU-LP Channel 60 airs Spanish-language programming from Florida-based Univision Communications Inc., and can only be viewed over-the-air on Oahu.
The FCC initially sought a $7,000 forfeiture from Maui-based licensee HTV/HTN/Hawaiian TV Network Ltd., according to a preliminary notice in September, but the commission allows licensees to argue for reduction of such penalties.
On May 17, 2006, the FCC attempted to arrange for a routine inspection of the main studio by calling HTV/Hawaiian Television.
HTV President C.T. Ryder, of Maui, returned the call the next day and told the FCC its main studio is co-located with the KHLU transmitter, at the KAIM-FM transmitter site on Palehua Ridge in West Oahu.
FCC rules require licensees to maintain a main studio and to ensure public access during normal business hours in order to "assure meaningful public participation in (the Commission's) licensing process."
On July 10 an FCC field agent, the KAIM site manager and KAIM contract engineer took the one-lane mountain road to the transmitter site and found two locked gates -- locked to prevent public access, the site manager said.
POSTED SIGNS warned against public approach, due to danger from high electromagnetic fields.
The FCC "found no apparent means by which the public could access the site," according to last week's forfeiture order.
A station also is required to maintain a meaningful managerial and staff presence at its main studio, but on July 10 the FCC agent found a windowless transmitter building containing four racks of electronic equipment and transmitters, a file cabinet and single chair. The site had no landline phone, staff, running water or rest room. There was however, an undated, handwritten note by the door with the words, "Be back in one hour" and a cellphone number.
FCC agents went back to the site twice more, once on July 25 with a person described as the KHLU marketing director, who had told them he and the KHLU president are at the site from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except for one-hour lunch breaks. He also said if one is absent they stagger their schedules to insure a continual studio presence.
While a landline, running water and rest room facilities are not specific requirements for a main studio, "these items provide evidentiary support of (the FCC's) conclusion that the purported main studio was not maintained for public access," the order said.
An agent returned to the site July 27 and over an hour and twenty minutes, found the site unoccupied, again.
Ryder could not be reached for comment for this column, despite repeated calls. However, the FCC said that since the initial notice in September, HTV has acknowledged that improvements are needed.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org