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FCC Upholds Fines for AMs KBJM, KNDC

Affirms penalties for late renewal applications, unauthorized operation

The FCC reaffirmed two fines in cases against stations for filing license renewal applications late and then operating without authorization.

The stations, KBJM(AM), Lemmon, S.D., and KNDC(AM), Hettinger, N.D., are owned by Media Associates and Schweitzer Media, Inc. respectively. Michael Schweitzer is the majority shareholder in the former and the sole shareholder in the latter.

The commission said the renewal for KBJM(AM) should have been filed by Dec. 1, 2004, four months before its license would expire. KBJM did seek an STA in July 2006 to remain on the air and filed for renewal at the same time. The agency granted the STA and license renewal in January 2007. That March, the commission proposed a $7,000 fine for the months KBJM had remained on the air without authorization. The station asked for a reduction, arguing the fine was issued too late and citing past good compliance with FCC rules.

The story is similar for KNDC(AM). The commission said that renewal app was also filed late, in July 2006. The FCC granted the STA in July 2006, and also an extension in January 2007 and finally granted the new renewal in January 2007. The commission also issued a $7,000 fine to KNDC and the station sought to have that reduced.

The FCC said this week it would not reduce the amounts, that the fines to both stations were issued months before the statute of limitations would have expired. The agency stated in its decision that Schweitzer cannot claim he has good past compliance with FCC rules since he filed late renewal applications and continued to operate the stations without authorization before obtaining license renewals.