It pays to keep files up to date and the FCC informed, a fact that Larko Communications has found out the hard way.
The company was fined $15,000 by the commission for a two-fold violation: failing to retain required documentation in the public file of WMYQ(FM) in South Whitley, Ind., and for discontinuing operation of the station without the commission’s consent.
In a letter sent to the FCC, Larko said it had not kept the proper documentation in the station’s public file at the appropriate time, due in part to the fact that the licensee’s majority shareholder and general manager, Christopher Larko, died in February 2010 after an extended illness. “Because he was the only full-time employee, quarterly lists of community problems and responsive programs were not placed in the public file during his final illness,” the company said.
All in all, the licensee failed to place nine quarterly lists in its public file, including those for at least three quarters in which the station operated for only part of the quarter, the FCC said. It handed down a base fine of $10,000 for the violation.
A secondary fine was handed out because the station failed to request authorization to remain silent. Larko said it ceased broadcast operations without authorization on March 29, 2011, and returned to the air on Jan. 26, 2012. The commission handed down a $5,000 fine for that secondary violation.
As the commission has stated in the past, neither negligent acts, nor omissions of station employees or subsequent actions taken after the fact can excuse the violations.
The commission did, however, agree to renew the station’s license, after finding no serious violations nor a pattern of abuse.
School Stations Hit With Fines After Disclosing File Violations
The commission has handed down three separate $10,000 fines in similar but unrelated cases involving school stations that failed to keep proper public inspection files. The FCC found out about these omissions when the stations identified them in license renewal paperwork.