FCC Slaps Big Fine on Colorado LPFM


Plymouth Gathering, the licensee for LPFM station KELS-LP in Greeley, Colorado (Pirate 104.7), is being accused of airing over 1,600 ads over 3 months in 2018. LPFM’s are allowed to mention contributors but they are not allowed to run full-blown commercials.

The Commission says the 1,600 ads KELS-LP ran promoted the products, services or businesses of at least 14 financial contributors. “Therefore, we propose a penalty of $15,000 against Plymouth for its apparent violation of statutory provisions and the Commission’s rules prohibiting commercial advertisements on NCE stations.”

The Commission received complaints about the station airing commercials as far back as 2015, essentially operating the noncommercial station as a commercial station. Following a review of the complaints, Commission staff, including the Bureau’s Colorado Field Office, investigated and monitored the Station. On September 5, 2018, the CO Field Office conducted an additional inspection of the station and recorded a segment of station programming that appeared to include commercial announcements for 14 underwriters. The Bureau inquired about these matters on December 12, 2018, 13 to which the licensee responded on February 8, 2019. The Commission says the station acknowledged in its response that it did indeed broadcast 13 different announcements more than 1,600 times over a three-month period in late 2018, but asserts that it does not maintain records concerning the broadcast dates, times or text of the announcements.

Read the full Commission NAL HERE.




  1. While they were certainly breaking the law and deserve a penalty, the irony of the tiny wrist slaps often given to pirates who operate totally illegally is both funny and sad. Unlicensed operators play whack-a-mole with the FCC for years and years while licensed offenders have nowhere to hide and for better or for worse get whacked hard.

  2. When LPFM — a secondary service — was proposed and implemented, it was very clear that it was to be a non-commercial outlet that would not compete financially with primary, full-power radio stations. Although the FCC’s proposed $15,000 fine, in this case, seems like a lot, I have two thoughts: 1. If the licensee cannot afford to pay the fine, does not do so, and is ultimately allowed entirely just to get away with not paying the fine, is there really a meaningful penalty in cases like these? And 2., Would it not be more effective to also permanently revoke the license, shut down the station, and seize the equipment of the offenders?

    There is no ambiguity, whatsoever, in the laws and regulations that direct the operations of LPFMs…and certainly in a case like this, where the licensee very knowingly and flagrantly ran over 1,600 paid spots! These low-power stations must be firmly required to play by the rules in the same way that primary-service AM and FM stations have to…no exceptions.


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