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FCC Board Recommends Revoking License of N.Y. Radio Station Owner

April 2, 1987

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Federal Communications Commission review board, in a rare move, today recommended revoking the license of a New York radio station owner accused of racial discrimination and repeated violation of FCC rules.

The review board affirmed a decision by an administrative law judge against Catoctin Broadcasting Corp., which operates WBUZ-AM, Fredonia, N.Y., and its president, Henry Serafin.

Judge Walter C. Miller had found ″not even a hint or scintilla of mitigating circumstance present in the record, nor pleas of contrition.″

The board concluded that ″Serafin is not the type of person that should be entitled to a public franchise.″

Serafin was out of his office this morning and could not be reached for comment. He can appeal the decision to the full commission.

If no appeal is filed within 30 days, his station’s license would be revoked automatically, said James McKinney, chief of the FCC’s mass media bureau.

The FCC rarely revokes station licenses, McKinney said.

Objections had been filed to Catoctin’s 1981 renewal request by the Chautauqua County Rural Ministry Inc., the Dunkirk, N.Y., branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the local branch of the League of Women Voters.

The review board, in a March 12 ruling released today, agreed with Miller’s conclusion that Serafin discriminated against a black woman who, through a federal jobs development program, applied for a job as a secretary at the station in 1981. After Serafin interviewed her, he allegedly called the program counselor and berated her for sending a black woman to be interviewed. Serafin denied the charge at his hearing.

The review board also said Serafin repeatedly refused to make Catoctin’s public file available to citizens. The file contains a station’s filings with the FCC and complaints made by citizens. When he finally did open the file, ″he tried to discourage, harass and intimidate″ those who tried to inspect the records, the board said. Serafin also denied that charge at his hearing.

In addition, he misrepresented his ascertainment survey in his 1981 renewal application by claiming he had interviewed 62 community leaders when he actually had talked to only 22, the board said. The surveys, which are no longer required, had required station owners to interview community leaders about the issues important to the community.

Miller had given Serafin additional time to find a buyer for WBUZ under the commission’s ″distress sale″ policy, which allows discounted sales to minorities, but he refused the option, the board said.

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