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After 18-Year Saga, FCC Says No More to Construction Extensions

Texas Grace Communications’ construction permit for facility has been summarily dismissed

Procrastinators beware: Take too long to file material with the FCC, and you may find yourself shut out of subsequent pleadings.

That’s the lesson that Texas Grace Communications has learned the hard way after the FCC denied an application for review on Sept. 16 — though it took about 18 years to get to that point.

Earlier this year the Media Bureau denied Texas Grace’s request for a construction permit extension because the request was filed late. Texas Grace asked the commission to reconsider that decision, because the media company says it was unable to timely file its motion because of its courier service’s inability to file by deadline and Texas Grace’s inability to file electronically in part because staff were not available late on the filing deadline date to assist with electronic filing.

But this saga actually began more than 18 years ago in 1996 when Texas Grace was granted a construction permit for station KRZB(FM). The licensee was given an 18-month period to construct its structure, the standard at the time. After that passed, the licensee sought “tolling” of the construction period, allowed when construction is prevented by causes not under the control of the permittee.

The commission subsequently gave Texas Grace an additional three years to construct its facility. When construction still remained unfinished, the permit for the facility then expired. It became DKRZB, with the dreaded “D” prefix.

Texas Grace’s contention is that it is still entitled to an uninterrupted three-year period in which to construction its station, despite the fact, the FCC wrote in its order, “that Texas Grace has had a total of over 44 ‘unencumbered’ months in which to construct. Texas Grace continues to insist that its construction period should be reset for an additional new three-year term each time a tolling event occurs.”

According to the FCC, Texas Grace attributes its failure to construct its facility within those 44 months to a variety of causes, including FCC agency misconduct and alleged favoritism with former commission staff. But the FCC upheld its earlier decision, focusing specifically on the fact that Texas Grace filed its most recent request for review after the deadline.

“The failure of a courier service to timely deliver pleadings is not an … extremely unusual circumstance, nor is the unavailability of staff to assist Texas Grace with the electronic filing process at the last minute before a relevant filing deadline,” the FCC order said.

The agency dismissed Texas Grace’s request and made a special note that it would “summarily dismiss” any subsequent pleadings filed by Texas Grace with respect to an extension of the construction period for station DKRZB.