Two Idaho radio stations, KIDO in the Treasure Valley and KLIX in the Magic Valley, both owned by Townsquare Media Inc., have been found in violation of federal law and fined $500,000 by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
In an article brought to you exclusively by the Idaho Dispatch in August 2023, we reported proof of the active investigation by the FCC.
The FCC found that the two stations knowingly violated the on-air requirements pertaining to identifying political sponsorships and the reporting and maintaining of online public political files.
An order adopted and released yesterday details the findings and decision made by the FCC in this matter. The order explains,
“In this Order, we adopt the attached Consent Decree entered into by the Media Bureau and Townsquare Media, Inc., parent company of the licensees of Stations KLIX(AM), Twin Falls, ID, and KIDO(AM), Nampa, ID. The Consent Decree resolves the Bureau’s investigation into Townsquare’s willful and repeated violations of sections 317(a) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and 73.1212(a) of the Commission’s rules, relating to on-air sponsorship identification announcements; and sections 315(e) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and 73.1943 of the Commission’s rules, relating to the maintenance of online political files. Pursuant to the Consent Decree, Townsquare agrees, among other things, to implement a comprehensive plan to ensure its future compliance with its sponsorship identification and online political file obligations, submit annual compliance reports to the Bureau through the remainder of the current license terms of the two stations, and pay a Civil Penalty to the United States Treasury in the total amount of $500,000. This action reinforces the Bureau’s commitment to ensuring compliance with sponsorship identification and online political file requirements.”
Townsquare Media Inc. has been ordered to implement a plan for future compliance, submit compliance reports, and pay a fine of $500,000.
The consent decree Townsquare is ordered to agree and adhere to further described the details of the violations. The FCC explains details of the programming we reported on, Red Wave Radio and political programming presented and paid for by Tom Luna and Victor Miller:
“The Investigation revealed that for nearly one and a half years (from early October 2021 to late March 2023), the Stations broadcast a one-hour episode of, and 30-second advertisements promoting, the Program. The format of each episode nominally resembled a news interview/public affairs program produced and presented by the Stations. In fact, however, all episodes of the Program were paid political presentations. Townsquare was paid to broadcast episodes of the Program and related advertisements initially by and on behalf of the Idaho Republican Party, and later by Tom Luna on behalf of a company doing business as Tom Luna and Associates. The hosts of each episode (Tom Luna and Victor Miller, chairman of the Ada County (Idaho) Republican Party) were solely responsible for producing the Program, including selecting guests and determining program content. Neither station provided any on-air Sponsorship ID announcements for the vast majority of the episodes or promotional advertisements that they aired revealing to listeners the true nature of the broadcasts and the identity of those who paid for them. In addition, multiple episodes of the Program contained appearances that constituted uses by legally qualified candidates for public office and communicated messages relating to political matters of national importance. Neither station uploaded records of any such candidate uses or messages to their respective online political files.”
Idaho Dispatch asked the offices of the Idaho Secretary of State and the Idaho Attorney General whether inquiries or investigations at the state level will be conducted for possible political reporting and campaign finance violations under the Idaho Sunshine laws. This article will be updated with responses if they are received.
Tags: 580 KIDO, Campaign Finance, Communications Act of 1934, FCC, Federal Communications Commission, KIDO, KIDO Talk Radio, KLIX, KLIX News Radio 96.1FM 1310AM, Political Advertising, Red Wave Radio, Tom Luna, Townsquare Media Inc, Victor Miller