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Station Avoids Fine Thanks to FCC Database Error

The commission's LMS filing database had the wrong expiration dates

It’s not easy to get the FCC’s Media Bureau to cancel a forfeiture. But a broadcaster in Alabama has done so after pointing out a problem with the commission’s own online database system.

The commission had issued a notice of apparent liability to Autaugaville Radio, which owns AM station WXKD in Brantley, Ala., and an FM translator in Troy. The FCC said the broadcaster had failed to file for license renewal by April 1 as required, so it was apparently on the hook for a $4,500 penalty.

The station wrote back saying its attorney had thought the deadline was in June and that it did file on June 18. That explanation alone would be unlikely to impress the commission; but the station also told the FCC that until June 16, the FCC’s own LMS filing database did not reflect the actual expiration dates of the licenses.

“Instead, LMS listed the stations’ licenses as expiring on April 1, 2028,” according to a commission summary. “The licensee states that, until this error was brought to the attention of the bureau staff by licensee’s counsel, and corrected on June 16, 2021, LMS would not accept applications to renew the stations’ licenses.”

The bureau staff found that this was, in fact the case.

“While the licensee could have discovered this issue sooner if it had correctly calculated the deadline for filing applications to renew the stations’ licenses, the licensee brought the error to our attention upon its discovery, and filed the applications to renew the stations’ licenses two days after the error was corrected,” the commission wrote.

So the FCC has canceled the NAL and admonished the broadcaster for violating the rules.