This story has been updated to reflect additional consent decrees announced by the commission.
Larger radio companies in the United States are not the only ones that have run afoul of the Federal Communications Commission in its investigations of online political files.
The FCC Media Bureau has reached consent decrees with at least six more companies. They include Center Hill Broadcasting Corp., Cookeville Communications, North Shore Broadcasting Co., W & V Broadcasting, H&GC Inc. and Alum Springs Vision & Outreach Corp., all announced this past week.
In each case the company filed applications for one or more station renewals but was unable to certify past compliance with the rules for political record keeping.
The FCC then put those applications on hold — a total of 21 stations across the six companies — so it could investigate.
Now, with these consent decrees, the investigations are ended.
Just as it did in announcing consent decrees with big “name brand” radio companies recently, the Media Bureau said the pandemic “has caused a dramatic reduction in advertising revenues which, in turn, has placed the radio broadcast industry … under significant financial stress.” It said disclosures by these four companies combined with the “exceptional circumstances” of a pandemic led it to the consent decrees rather than other action.
Each company agrees to appoint a compliance officer; develop a compliance plan, including a manual and training program; and submit reports to the commission’s Political Programming staff. The FCC now will release the “hold” on the pending license renewal applications.