Personnel at West Virginia’s WKLC(FM) in St. Albans have a reason to smile.
The FCC cancelled a $7,000 fine against the station, renewed the license and approved a modification of that license.
In 2004, WKLC applied for a construction permit asking for permission to build new facilities after its tower site was destroyed. The commission okayed the request and granted a construction permit that was good until July 19, 2007.
But the station didn’t file a covering license application by the deadline, so the CP expired.
Nearly four years later, WKLC filed a license application. In August 2011, the FCC proposed the fine for the late application and for unauthorized station operation in the meantime. In the meantime, the Media Bureau granted an STA so WKLC could operate legally with the facilities specified in the 2004 CP application. The station filed a new CP application, which was granted in September 2011.
The station’s license renewal and covering license applications had been held up because of the forfeiture proceeding.
WKLC argued the fine should be reduced or cancelled because the station should have been granted a waiver, the penalty is excessive and the licensee has a history of good compliance with commission rules. WKLC said the bureau’s decision not to grant the station a waiver was a departure from previous policy, that the bureau previously considered filing the license application four years late a “minor” violation.
In its decision, the FCC countered that filing a few days late is minor, but four years is not. However, noting a previous instance where the agency let such lag time slide, it cancelled the WKLC fine.
However, the commission said going forward, it would only waive the automatic expiration provision of the rule “and accept a late-filed covering license application where: (1) the permittee demonstrates conclusively that construction in accordance with the construction permit was complete and the station was ‘ready for operation’ by the permit expiration date; and (2) the covering license application is filed within 30 days of the expiration date.” The 30-day waiver will only be available to permittees who have really completed construction, emphasized the FCC.