A New Mexico FM station has fought off a challenge to its license renewal but entered into a consent decree with the Federal Communications Commission for transferring control without authorization.
Soon after Socorro Community Radio in 2021 requested to renew its license for station KYRN(FM) in Socorro, N.M., an informal objection was filed by Green Lion Media alleging several missteps. Green Lion said that Socorro had participated in an unauthorized transfer of control in 2013 when it failed to notify the commission of the death of its owner William H. Pace.
At the time, the bureau said, Socorro operated the station under a time brokerage agreement with Sovereign City Radio LLC.
Green Lion asserted that another unauthorized transfer of control occurred in July 2017 when Socorro agreed to sell the station to Green Lion. This was done, Green Lion argued, without commission authorization because a transfer of control application had not been filed.
It claimed two further transgressions: one, that Socorro had reported the wrong dates on a request for special temporary authority to remain silent; and two, did not provide sufficient information on issues/program lists for parts of 2017 and 2018.
As a result, Green Lion asked the Media Bureau to deny the license renewal.
Socorro responded that Green Lion’s petition was itself defective because it was not supported by an affidavit from a person with personal knowledge of the allegations and that it lacked a required certificate of service.
But it also said said Pace’s death in 2013 did not result in unauthorized transfer of control because Socorro was not the licensee at the time; only in 2014 was the license assigned from Sovereign City Radio Services to Socorro.
It did acknowledge an unauthorized transfer of control in 2017 when its owner moved out of state to begin a new job and allowed Green Lion to assume control of the station without commission authorization.
Socorro said that after it filed a lawsuit against Green Lion and its owner, the latter stopped operating the station in March 2018 and it was off the air for nearly a year. Socorro said it provided truthful information on its silent STA request as well as its issues/programs lists, though it acknowledged that it did not have complete information to report for the relevant periods. Regarding the STA, Socorro said that Green Lion agreed in court to silence the station on March 19 and Socorro filed the STA request on March 20.
Socorro asked the Media Bureau to dismiss Green Lion’s petition and grant its renewal.
In reviewing the case, the Media Bureau dismissed the Green Lion petition as procedurally defective. It also rejected the argument that an unauthorized transfer had occurred in 2013, given that Sovereign City Radio Services was licensee at the time. And it rejected the assertion that the licensee reported false dates on its STA and false information on its issues/program lists.
The bureau did find that an unauthorized transfer to Green Lion had occurred in 2017. So it has agreed to a consent decree with Socorro, which will make a $1,500 civil penalty payment. But the bureau denied and dismissed the petition filed by Green Lion, and plans to grant the license renewal.
This isn’t the first consent decree that Socorro has entered into with the commission. In April, the licensee entered into one after the Media Bureau found it failed to comply with some of its political file obligations.