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Ohio Broadcaster Pays $8,000 in Consent Decree

Decision finalizes FCC investigation into unauthorized license transfer

An Ohio broadcaster agreed to pay $8,000 as part of a consent decree after purchasing two licenses without consent from the Federal Communications Commission.

Earlier this year Media Bureau began investigating the assignment of station WTTF(AM) and FM translator W227BJ from Tiffin Broadcasting to BAS Broadcasting. Beginning in April 2014, Tiffin began the process of acquiring the licenses of the two stations, which were based in Tiffin, Ohio. Tiffin also entered into a Local Marketing Agreement for the two stations with BAS. At the time, it was agreed that Tiffin would retain full control of all operations, programming and personnel.

[Read: FCC Proposes Regulatory Fees for 2020 Amid Uncertain Media Marketplace]

In January 2015, Tiffin and BAS entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement in which BAS agreed to formally purchase the licenses and other assets from Tiffin. BAS began making a series of monthly payments in early 2015. The deal was in December 2019 when payments to Tiffin totaled $608,000.

But all this was done without commission consent, the FCC said.

In April 2020, Tiffin and BAS filed an application with the FCC disclosing the reassignment of the two stations. According to BAS and Tiffin, “[We] mistakenly believed that the ownership change would be implemented through the process of filing the renewal applications.”

According to the rules laid out in the Communications Act, “no construction permit or station license, or any rights thereunder, shall be transferred, assigned, or disposed of in any manner … except upon application to the commission… .”

After an investigation, Tiffin and BAS agreed that they violated Section 310 of the Communications Act and Section 73.3540 of the FCC Rules. As a result, BAS agreed to make an $8,000 civil penalty payment to close out the investigation.