The FCC reaffirmed a $7,000 fine for WKLC(FM), St. Albans, W. Va. for filing a late license application and operating its station without authorization after its construction permit expired.
Clear Channel originally filed an application in June 2004, asking permission to build new facilities after its tower site was destroyed. That July, the commission granted a CP that was to expire in July 2007.
According to the agency, the broadcaster didn’t file a covering license application before the CP expired. Clear Channel filed an application to modify the license nearly four years after the CP expired, explaining it had finished construction and started operating the station seeking test authority before the CP expired.
The broadcaster said the FCC’s database prevented it from checking the appropriate box on the form. However the FCC’s rules state that any CP for which construction has not been completed and for which an application has not been filed is automatically forfeited once the CP expires, without the commission taking any more action. Clear Channel sought a waiver of this portion of the rules.
Last August, the Media Bureau rejected Clear Channel’s waiver request and dismissed the application. That’s when the agency found Clear Channel apparently liable for a base fine of $3,000 for filing a late license application, and $4,000 — reduced from the base amount of $10,000 — for unauthorized station operation.
Clear Channel appealed, arguing the fine was excessive in light of the circumstances and its history of good compliance with FCC rules. It also argued that filing for the final license application four years late was inadvertent and a “relatively minor filing deadline violation.”
The commission disagreed, saying in its decision four years is a big deal and that the Enforcement Bureau had previously admonished Clear Channel for violations at the site.
The agency said it already cut the licensee a break when it levied the original penalty and further reductions are not warranted. Therefore, the commission upheld the $7,000 fine and says Clear Channel has 30 days to pay.