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For Willfully Operating Without a License, Permittee Handed $3,500 Forfeiture

Potter Radio failed to file a covering license on time for its new FM translator

An Oklahoma licensee received a $3,500 notice of forfeiture for failing to file a license application for an FM translator on time.

Potter Radio submitted a construction permit for FM translator K236CT in Pawhuska, Okla., in January 2018 with a three-year expiration date of January 2021. On Aug. 4, 2020, Potter requested six months of additional time in which to finalize construct the translator due to construction delays caused by COVID. The Media Bureau agreed and extended the permit to July 4, 2021.

But according to the bureau, Potter Radio did not file a required covering license by that date and as a result the permit expired.

[Read: LPFM Sees Call Sign Deleted After Unauthorized Broadcasting Claim]

Later that month, Potter filed a petition asking the bureau to reconsider cancellation of the construction permit. The bureau treated the request as a waiver and agreed to reinstate permit, giving Potter until August 13 to file a covering license. Potter did so on August 2.

But when a permittee fails to file a covering license application on time — as required by FCC Rules — and instead continues operating, the commission considers it an act of unauthorized operation. In this case, the unauthorized operation lasted almost a month, giving the commission the authority to hold the party in question liable for willfully acting without a license and thus liable for a forfeiture penalty.

The FCC’s forfeiture policy statement establishes a base forfeiture of $3,000 for failing to file a required form and an additional $10,000 for operation without authorization. The commission also has the authority to raise or lower that amount as it sees fit. Based on the Media Bureau’s review of the facts and circumstances, it issued a $7,000 base forfeiture before again reducing that forfeiture to $3,500 because as Potter Radio is providing a secondary service as a translator station.

As a result, Potter Radio is required to either submit the $3,500 forfeiture or file a written statement seeking reduction or cancellation.