The Federal Communications Commission is holding a broadcast licensee to task after seven of its stations admitted they had each been silent for nearly 12 months.
On March 29, 2021, Mekaddesh Group Corp. filed license renewal applications for seven Texas stations including KZAM(FM) in Pleasant Valley, KEVK(FM) in Sanderson, KYLQ(FM) in Encinal, KEVQ(FM) in Crosbyton, KDSP(FM) in Spur, KEVM(FM) in Junction and KYLB(FM) in Turkey.
All seven of the stations had gone silent for a period of nearly 12 months — many returning to the air the day before the 12-month clock would strike — accounting for 25% of its license term and an additional 40% of its extended term (which runs while renewal applications are being processed). All of the stations fell silent in either January, February or March of 2021.
In a memorandum and order notice, the Media Bureau reminded Mekaddesh that remaining silent for a significant period of time is seen as a “fundamental failure” of its responsibilities as a broadcast licensee. In this case in particular, the commission said that Mekaddesh’s conduct has “fallen short of that which would warrant routine license renewal.”
As a result, the Media Bureau concluded that short-term license renewals for the stations are an appropriate sanction. Although the bureau said the stations sought commission authorization for the silences, it did not find that the stations served the public interest during the license term. In addition, it was revealed that the licensee also failed to comply with its online public inspection file requirements.
Because of this, the bureau agreed to enter into a consent decree with Mekaddesh and to grant a short-term license renewal of one year, which will give the bureau the opportunity to review the stations’ public service performances as well as future compliance with the Communications Act and FCC Rules.
The station’s new one-year license renewal will expire on July 18, 2023, at which time the stations must also submit a compliance report to the Media Bureau.