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Failing to File a Timely Renewal Proves Costly

Three stations zinged for late filing but FCC doesn’t impose max penalty

The FCC keeps tabs on — and penalizes —licensees who fail to file for licenses renewals on time. But in three cases this week, those fines aren’t quite as steep as they could be.

The Media Bureau’s Audio Division proposed notices of apparent liability against three licensees for the same infringement: failing to file a station license renewal application on time.

Handed down on the same day, the commission issued NALs to Hawk Communications, Good Christian Radio Broadcasting and Morris Broadcasting Co. of New Jersey.

What’s notable is how closely these circumstances mirror one another. For Hawk Communications it was for AM station WSPQ in Springville, N.Y.; for Good Christian Radio Broadcasting it was for FM station WLIH in Whitneyville, Pa.; and for Morris Broadcasting Company of New Jersey it was for AM station WIMG in Ewing, N.J.

In each case, the licensees filed their applications several months after the deadline. According to FCC rules, an application to renew a broadcast station license must be filed by the first day of the fourth full calendar month prior to expiration of the license.

There were other similarities. In each case, the FCC noted that the licensee failed to provide an explanation for the late filing.

But the levies handed down were smaller than they could have been. The base fine for failing to timely file a station license renewal application is $3,000. Yet in each circumstance, the commission decided to reduce the fine to $1,500, noting that each licensee filed the application before the actual expiration of the station’s license.

In the end, the commission approved all three license renewals, saying none of the licensees had committed serious violations, there was no recognzied pattern of abuse, and the stations had illustrated a commitment to serving the public interest.

The licensees have 30 days to appeal the ruling or to submit payment to the FCC.