The pandemic threw a wrench into many a schedule in 2020: cancelled meetings, abandoned appointments, missed deadlines. And for the Federal Communications Commission, those missed deadlines have generated many a headline as more than a few broadcasters failed to file broadcast license renewal applications on time through the year.
The Broady Media Group, licensee of station WENO(AM) in Nashville, had its license renewal deadline smack in the midst of the COVID explosion. The station’s application needed to be filed before the first business day of the fourth full month before the license expired, which was April 1, 2020. Without providing an explanation for the delay, Broady Media filed the application on July 31, 2020, a day before its license was due to expire.
Another missed deadline in the pandemic epoch of 2020: a FM translator station license renewal application due on Dec. 1, 2020. The Media Bureau issued a forfeiture order for Soli Deo Gloria FM LLC, the licensee of K266AK in Aspen, Colo., for failing to file the renewal on time. The licensee did finally file an application on Jan. 14, 2021, but did not provide an explanation for the late timing.
The procedures are clear when it comes to a missed license renewal application deadline, pandemic or no pandemic.
For Broady Media, the Media Bureau issued a notice of apparent liability, the first step in cases like these, and ordered that the broadcaster pay a forfeiture of $3,000 for failing to file a required form on time.
For Soli Deo Gloria, it received a forfeiture order, which is the second step in a process like this. The initial a notice of apparent liability was delivered on June 8, 2021, in which the commission proposed Soli Deo Gloria pay a $1,500 fine, the base forfeiture for a secondary service like an FM translator. To date, no one at Soli Deo Gloria has either paid the proposed forfeiture or filed a written response.
Broady Media has 30 days to respond to the notice and to ask for reduction or cancellation of the forfeiture. Soli Deo Gloria, however, is now being told by the Media Bureau that it must now pay the $1,500 forfeiture outright.