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FCC Penalizes Two LPFMs Over Late Filings

The commission said the stations failed to file their license renewal applications on time

The Federal Communications Commission is continuing to remind low-power FM stations that they must file their license renewal applications on time — or a forfeiture notification may also be on the way.

On April 20, the Media Bureau sent notifications to two stations in the Northwest — one in Brookings, Ore., the other in Wenatchee, Wash. — and according to the bureau, both allegedly failed to file their license renewals on time, which would have been the first day of the fourth full calendar month prior to the expiration of their license. 

For both licensees, the situations were similar. Wenatchee Youth Radio, licensee of station KWEW(LP), was to file a renewal application by Oct. 1, 2021, which is four months ahead of the station’s license expiration date of Feb. 1, 2022. Anchor Network, licensee of station KSEP(LP), also should have filed its application by Oct. 1, 2021, prior to the Feb. 1, 2022 license expiration date.  

According to the Media Bureau, Wenatchee’s application was not filed until Jan. 26, 2022. When the application was submitted, Wenatchee provided no explanation for its late filing, the bureau said. Similarly, Anchor Network provided no explanation for its own late filing of the application when it was submitted on Jan. 28, 2022.

As a result, the bureau issued separate notice of apparent liability notifications to both Wenatchee and Anchor Network for willfully failing to comply with a provision of the Communications Act or any rule issued by the commission. The commission’s forfeiture policy statement and the FCC Rules establish a base forfeiture amount of $3,000 for failing to file a required form. To determine the appropriate forfeiture amount, the commission can adjust the base amount upward or downward as needed, based on the nature, circumstances and gravity of the violation. 

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In the case of Wenatchee, the bureau found that while the licensee failed to file the form on time and did not provide an explanation for the filing, Wenatchee did file the application before the station’s license expired. Taking all those factors into consideration, the bureau reduced the forfeiture amount to $1,500 because, as LPFMs, they are providing a secondary service.

In the case of Anchor Network, the particulars were the same. Anchor also failed to file an application on time and did not offer an explanation. Anchor did, however, file the application before the station’s license expired. The bureau also decided to reduce the licensee’s forfeiture to $1,500.

In both cases, the bureau found that the violations committed by Wenatchee and Anchor Network did not present a serious violation warranting designation for an evidentiary hearing. The bureau also did not see any pattern of abuse. 

Both of the stations have 30 days to pay the full amount or file a written statement seeking reduction or cancellation of the forfeiture.

Susan Ashworth is the former editor of TV Technology and a long-time contributor to Radio World. She has served as editor-in-chief of two housing finance magazines and written about topics as varied as broadcasting, education, chess, music, sports and the connected home environment.