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Expired Licenses Lead to $7,000 Forfeiture for FM Translator

A Tennessee permittee allegedly operated the translators for five months without proper authorization

FCC, Federal Communications CommissionA media company in Tennessee is facing a $7,000 forfeiture after allegedly operating two FM translators without an active license.

In 2018, PEG Broadcasting was issued a construction permit for two stations — W249DQ and W221ED — in McMinnville, Tenn., in January and February of that year respectively. Both permits had expiration dates of January and February 2021. But according to the Media Bureau, the permittee failed to file a covering license application as required by FCC Rules.

[Read: Missed License Renewal Earns FM Translator a $3,500 Forfeiture]

On April 30, PEG Broadcasting failed a petition for reconsideration and the Media Bureau treated that petition as a waiver of FCC Rules. The bureau granted the waiver, reinstated the permits and gave PEG Broadcasting until August 17, 2021, to file covering license applications for the permits.

But in that interval, PEG Broadcasting failed to file covering license applications on time and continued operating the translators after the permits expired. The bureau sees this as unauthorized operation of each translator — in this case, for more than five months — which is a violation of the Communications Act.

In cases where an individual or company willfully or repeatedly fails to comply with any provision of the Communications Act, they are liable for a forfeiture penalty. The Federal Communication Commission’s Forfeiture Policy Statement establishes a base forfeiture amount of $3,000 for failing to file a required form and a base forfeiture of $10,000 for construction or operation without a permit.

As it has done in other cases of FM translators failing to file licenses on time, the bureau reduced the forfeiture for each station because translators are considered a secondary service. In this case the bureau found that a $3,500 forfeiture for each translator is appropriate because the licensee failed to file a covering license application for the translators and engaged in unauthorized operation after the permit expired.

As a result, PEG Broadcasting has 30 days to pay $7,000 or file a written statement seeking reduction or cancellation of the proposed forfeiture.