In a rare move, the Federal Communications Commission cancelled a liability that it had levied against an FM translator, despite the fact that the licensee failed to file its license renewal application on time.
The Media Bureau sent out a Notice of Apparent Liability to Gerard Media LLC, licensee of FM translator station W294CY in Valparaiso, Ind., because the licensee failed to file a renewal application on time. FCC Rules state that these type of applications must be received on the fourth calendar month prior to the expiration of the station’s license, which for W294CY would have been on April 1, 2020, four months prior to an Aug. 1, 2020, license expiration date.
Instead, the licensee didn’t formally file the application until July 23, 2020. At the time, the bureau proposed a forfeiture of $1,500 and gave the licensee 30 days to either pay the full amount or submit a statement seeking cancelation of the forfeiture.
On March 10, 2021, the licensee responded, saying that it had been unable to file its application on time due to a technical issue with the commission’s Licensing and Management System (LMS), the commission’s filing database. The licensee said that when the station was initially licensed on Oct. 28, 2019, LMS listed the wrong expiration date, saying the deadline was July 9, 2021, instead of the correct date, which was April 1, 2020.
In February 2020, the station’s engineer reached out to Media Bureau staff to apprise them of the error, noting that despite his efforts, LMS would not accept a license renewal application for the station. The staff informed the licensee’s engineer, Larry Langford, that the error was corrected.
All was not resolved, however. Langford reached out again in July 2020 saying the dates had not been corrected. The problem was finally resolved on July 23, with Langford filing the renewal application that same day.
While the FCC was to blame for the initial mix up, the Media Bureau still had admonishments to hand out to the licensee.
The bureau chastised the licensee for waiting too long to retry filing the renewal application again. The station’s engineer did not attempt to file the application until July 2020, even though he reached out to bureau staff back in February 2020. “Therefore, the failure to timely file the renewal application was due to licensee’s own lack of diligence,” the bureau said in its notice, formally admonishing the licensee for its violation of FCC Rules.
However, given the fact that bureau staff did not adequately correct the LMS issue in February 2020, the bureau made the rare decision to cancel the Notice of Apparent Liability, absolving the licensee from having to pay the $1,500 penalty.