A South Dakota licensee is liable for a forfeiture of several thousands of dollars after allegedly failing to file a license renewal application on time.
The Media Bureau at the Federal Communication Commission found that Seventh Generation Media Services — licensee of station KLND(FM) of Little Eagle, S.D. — is liable for a monetary forfeiture of $3,000. FCC Rules require that applications for broadcast station license renewals must be filed by the first day of the fourth calendar month prior to the license’s expiration date. In Seventh Generation’s case, that filing deadline was Dec. 1, 2020.
But the Media Bureau discovered that the application was not filed on time — not until March 22, 2021. When Seventh Generation was asked about the delay, the licensee said that its previous manager — who apparently would have been responsible for overseeing the renewal — quit her position and the current manager was unaware of certain passwords and policies.
In its ruling on this case, however, the bureau said this was not a viable reason. As FCC rules state, the licensee is ultimately responsible for ensuring it complies with the FCC’s rules by filing a timely renewal application. Seventh Generation’s explanation that the current station manager did not have the password to access the FCC’s filing database and that the manager was not familiar with the commission’s filing requirement is not a valid excuse.
“The commission has been clear that ignorance of the law is not an excuse for failure to comply with commission rules and regulations, and we have held that loss of a database password does not excuse an untimely filing,” the bureau said in its order.
Taking all the factors into consideration, the bureau proposed a forfeiture of $3,000. The commission has the opportunity to raise or lower that forfeiture based on the individual circumstances. In this case, the bureau found that the station had been serving the public interest, has not seriously violated other areas of the Communications Act or the FCC rules and has found no other violations that could constitute a pattern of abuse. The bureau also noted that the licensee did file the application prior to the expiration of the station’s license, which would have been April 1, 2021.
The bureau has thus ordered Seventh Generation to either pay the $3,000 forfeiture within 30 days or file a written statement seeking reduction or cancellation.