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FCC to Two AM Licensees: Pay Fees or Nixed Licenses Could Be Next

Collectively the two Georgia licensees owe allegedly more than $90,000 in unpaid FCC fees

The Media Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission is asking two licensees to clarify why they haven’t paid years’ worth of regulatory fees — in one case, for more than a decade — and warned the owners that the next possible step could be loss of the stations’ licenses.

In both situations, the backgrounds are similar. Cox Broadcast Group and La Favorita Inc. are being questioned by the FCC over allegedly unpaid regulatory fees. For Cox station WCGA(AM) in Woodbine, Ga., the FCC said that the licensee allegedly failed to pay regulatory fees for fiscal year 2010, 2103, 2016, 2017 and 2018 resulting in unpaid regulatory fees totaling $11,531.21. Despite the fact that demand letters have been sent to Cox, no payments have yet been made, the Media Bureau said.

[Read: Virginia FM Handed $15,000 Forfeiture for Alleged Filing Violations]

A similar situation has occurred with three AM stations in Georgia licensed by La Favorita Inc. The Media Bureau said the licensee has unpaid regulatory fees stretching back more than a decade — from 2007 through 2018 — for stations WAOS(AM) in Austell, WLBA(AM) in Gainesville and WXEM(AM) in Buford. The amount of unpaid fees totals $79,457.69 for those years. The bureau said that demand letters have been sent to La Favorita but to date have not been paid.

In both cases, additional charges will continue to accrue on these debts until they are paid in full, the bureau said, which includes a penalty equal to 25% of the amount of the original fee.

The commission also has the authority to revoke a station’s license for failing to pay regulatory fees and penalties. As a result, the commission has asked Cox and La Favorita to file documented evidence within 60 days to show that that it has paid or to show cause why payment should be waived. The FCC warned that failing to provide such evidence within the next two months may result in revocation of the stations’ licenses.