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Local San Diego independent television station KUSI has been released from all fines related to 22 violations of Federal Communications Commission rules relating to making emergency information available via text as well as audio.

The FCC first proposed in 2005 and finally in 2008 levied fines of $25,000 against the station for actions related to the San Diego County wildfires of 2003, where emergency evacuation information was reported verbally but not relaying that information visually for viewers with hearing impairments. The station had actually faced a maximum fine of $160,000, or $8,000 for each violation, but nonetheless repeatedly appealed the reduced amount.

“I think the FCC has gone crazy with fines thinking this is their sole purpose in life,” station owner Mike McKinnon told Broadcasting & Cable at the time the penalties were announced.

“People with hearing disabilities have a right to the same timely emergency information as stations provide to their hearing audiences,” responded then-FCC chairman Michael Powell.

KUSI argued at the time that its reporters were often conveying incomplete information as the disaster progressed, and that relaying this information to the hearing impaired could have caused them to make bad decisions based on potentially incomplete or unconfirmed information. The FCC’s response was that if the information was potentially dangerous enough to keep out of the hands of the hearing impaired, perhaps it should’ve been kept from other viewers as well.

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Twister March 20, 2012 @ 3:26 p.m.

Time was, broadcasters took great pride in leading the way on public information, the English language, and accepting responsibility for errors, broadcasting same in a timely way.

While I share the sentiment that bureaucrats should not be "in our faces," I also want some teeth in the rules and their enforcement. I'd like to know exactly how KUSI wiggled out of this one.

I wince every time I hear "The Turko Files are next." So much for leadership in grammar.

It's sad that this nice station with the most local feel has slid so far from "grace." I used to watch it preferentially; now I click around (often in vain). In addition, KUSI has increasingly gotten to be ideological, with editorial commentary infesting the "news." Too bad.


InOmbra March 21, 2012 @ 8:04 a.m.

Agree. The station decided to compete with Fox, the local version of which has news desk reporters who deliver even less of their personal ideological opinions than do the KUSI desk jockies. I just watched a dark-haired KUSI desk jockey woman refer to Pres Obama as "shady slim." The insulting label had nothing to do with the story. Her body language and facial expression left no doubt that she loathed having to watch a video showing Pres Obama speaking. That really disgusts me. If KUSI were fined each time their reporters breached journalistic standards, it'd be bankrupt.


Twister March 21, 2012 @ 3:41 p.m.

I prefer Fox to KUSI. Better journalists.

I used to like the weather guy, and still do like his personality--I even looked forward to his exposee (last year) of "The Global Warming Hoax," but it turned out to be about as unscientific a pile of opinion-$hi! as I've ever seen. All kinds of fallacies, especially appeal-to-authority, straw-man, etc. I suspect that he's a good person who is undoubtedly a gentleman--but no scholar.


paniolo May 25, 2012 @ 8:48 a.m.

KUSI received outstanding reviews for their ongoing coverage of the fires. Disaster coverage is not a perfect science in an ever changing, 24 hr , very dangerous situation. KUSI doesn't have to pander to other stations or extreme liberals or extreme conservatives or extreme anything else. Fox has their style - KUSI has theirs and Ch 10 has theirs. That is all the better for the San Diego audiences.


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