The Federal Communications Commission has taken the rare step of revoking a license after a media company failed to pay its delinquent regulatory fees.
As of early morning April 4, the day its license was revoked, station WJDF(FM) in Orange, Mass., was posting local weather updates but its live stream on radio.net was unavailable and its website said it is “currently under construction.” The Class A station was licensed with 5.8 kW power at 97.3 FM.
Radio World has reached out for comment on whether the station will appeal the ruling.
According to the commission, Deane Brothers Broadcasting Corp. (DBB), failed to pay regulatory fees for its station WJDF for five fiscal years — from 2014 through 2018. When those fees went unpaid, the commission assessed an additional series of penalties equal to 25% of the regulatory fees.
According to an article in the Worcester Business Journal in 2016, the media company was founded by the Deane brothers in 1995. The call sign was an homage to three of its family members: brothers Jay, Donn and Fred Deane. Phone calls to a number on the station’s Facebook page were not answered.
According to the FCC, letters requesting payment of the company’s delinquent regulatory fees were sent to DBB. The FCC said the company did not respond to these letters. As a result, the delinquent debt for the regulatory fees for 2014 through 2017 was initially transferred to the U.S. Treasury for collection. Then in November 2018, the FCC requested the debt be transferred back to the FCC for collection.
Soon after, the commission issued an “Order to Pay or to Show Cause” to DBB and required the company to file documented evidence within 60 days that full payment of all outstanding regulatory fees and penalties had been made. If payments weren’t made, the FCC warned it had the authority to revoke the station’s license.
The commission said DBB did not file a response to this order either. On April 4, the commission revoked the license and dismissed the pending application for renewal of the station’s license.
“In these circumstances, where DBB has failed to pay its regulatory fees for multiple years and failed to respond to multiple letters regarding those delinquent debts, revocation is appropriate,” the FCC said in its order.
Despite the revoked license, DBB remains obligated to pay the remaining debt, the FCC said.