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FCC Fines Hope Broadcasting $10,000

Commission says licensee filed license renewal late, operated without authorization

The FCC found Hope Broadcasting, licensee of WFGN(AM), Gaffney, S.C., apparently liable for a $10,000 fine for filing its license renewal application late and unauthorized operation. The agency did grant WFGN’s license renewal in May, finding no evidence of serious violations nor a pattern of abuse of the FCC’s rules.

However, the commission requires licensees to file their license renewal applications at least four months before they would expire. The agency said in its decision this week that WFGN’s license renewal should have been filed by Aug. 1, 2003. It wasn’t and the station’s license expired on Dec. 1 of that year.

The commission told the station that its authority to operate was terminated and the calls were deleted from the agency’s database. After receiving that letter, Hope filed its license renewal application, dated May 25, 2011. The broadcaster also asked for Special Temporary Authority to remain on-air pending consideration of its license renewal application.

WFGN got the STA on June 9 of this year. That STA is set to expire Dec. 9. Hope told the FCC its late renewal application filing was an oversight and it didn’t realize its license had expired. Hope was also late in filing a supplemental renewal application, according to the agency.

Not only had Hope filed its license renewal application late twice, it continued to operate for more than seven years after WFGN’s license had expired, said the agency in its decision.

In calculating the fine, the commission proposed a $3,000 penalty for each late renewal application, but reduced the amount for unauthorized operation from the base $10,000 to $4,000, differentiating WFGN from a pirate station, which would have received a $10,000 fine for unauthorized operation. The total proposed fine for WFGN is $10,000.

Hope has 30 days to appeal or pay the penalty.