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Charlotte Amalie
Saturday, June 15, 2024


June 18, 2001 — The future of St. Croix radio station WSTX remains in doubt with the Federal Communications Commission having rejected its request to postpone a license revocation hearing.
WSTX filed a petition with the FCC on March 15 for reconsideration after the regulatory agency accused the station of "willfully and repeatedly" violating federal broadcast law. WSTX is owned by Family Broadcasting, which until recently was owned by attorney Gerard Luz James.
In its request, Family Broadcasting sought the reconsideration so that it could correct an array of deficiencies at its AM and FM stations.
But the FCC last week dismissed Family Broadcasting’s request, paving the way for proceedings to determine whether the stations’ licenses should be revoked. A hearing date has not been set.
The FCC charged that Family Broadcasting misrepresented the facts when it said the FM station transmitter had been relocated from Blue Mountain, the licensed site, to Fort Louise Augusta, the licensed site of the AM transmitter, because of damage at the original site from Hurricane Lenny.
The FCC said it had determined that the transmitter was relocated because the owner of the Blue Mountain site had not been paid rent. Family Broadcasting may have violated FCC rules that require permission to deviate from the terms of a broadcast license.
The FCC also charged that Family Broadcasting failed to operate the transmitters for both stations at authorized levels, failed to secure the sites of the transmitters, failed to maintain inspection files, and had no Emergency Alert System.
The company now faces the prospect not only of having the licenses of its FM and AM stations revoked but also of having to pay up to $275,000 in penalties for FCC rules violations.
In its June 13 decision, the FCC determined that Family Broadcasting "willfully and repeatedly violated the commission’s rules and misrepresented facts to, and/or lacked candor with the commission," including operating the stations out of compliance of FCC rules for about four years. Family Broadcasting has operated both the AM and FM stations since 1991.
In its petition for reconsideration, Family Broadcasting didn’t challenge the FCC charges. Rather, it sought the hearing postponement in order to have time to correct the violations.
"Family, in other words, effectively seeks to avoid a monetary forfeiture of up to $275,000 as well as an evidentiary hearing that could result in the forfeiture of its licences," the FCC decision said.
According to the FCC, James has resigned as an officer and director of the stations, and he and his wife have requested that the agency allow them to transfer all of their stock in the stations to their children, one of whom is Lt. Gov. Gerard Luz James II.
The FCC does not suggest that James’s children were involved in or aware of any wrongdoing. The family’s oldest daughter, Barbara James-Petersen, now manages the stations and has hired a consulting engineer to correct the cited violations.

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