The Federal Communications Commission Monday upheld a $20,000 fine against a California broadcaster that played a role in a massive barrage of interference that affected more than one-dozen AM-radio stations in the Western U.S.
The interference came from three Mexican stations operating at higher power levels and, in one case, a different channel, than approved by U.S. and Mexican officials.
The California broadcaster, Pacific Spanish Network, was fined because U.S. officials didn’t buy the explanation of company president Jaime Bonilla, who said he was unaware the Mexican stations were causing the interference.
The fine was first proposed July 30 and Pacific Spanish failed to challenge the proposal. The FCC noted that Bonilla is also a director (and his wife the controlling shareholder) of the three outlets’ management company.
The interference flap led to minor diplomatic flap between the U.S. and Mexico because Mexican officials initially deflected U.S. calls to end the interference.
A 1986 treaty requires the Mexican and U.S. governments to coordinate technical details for TV and radio stations operating along the border. U.S. officials were disturbed that Mexico would begin ignoring the treaty, possible leading to more interference disputes as DTV stations build out along the two countries’ borders. In June, the Mexican government ordered the three stations to cut their power.