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Incomplete Public File Garners WKCR $10,000 Fine

Columbia University says station has faced ‘operating difficulties’ since 9/11

It appears Columbia University in New York City is on the hook for $10,000 for documents missing from the public inspection file of WKCR(FM).

The noncommercial station also came close to having its license renewal granted for a short-term period only.

The case is unusual because WKCR said on its renewal application that since its transmission facilities on the World Trade Center were destroyed on 9/11, the station has faced operating difficulties and has been transmitting from “various temporary locations” and with reduced coverage area.

Columbia was truthful on its license renewal application, admitting WKCR’s public file was incomplete. It said the quarterly issues/program lists were not missing deliberately but inadvertently.

In its decision, the FCC said the missing files occurred over the entire eight-year period of the license, including a four-year period before its transmission facilities were destroyed.

The agency determined WKCR’s violations to be “serious” and made up a pattern of abuse of the FCC’s rules.

Still, the commission would not normally designate the renewal application for a hearing under these circumstances but it would still grant a short-term renewal in the meantime. However the Media Bureau decided not to do that here because WKCR is due to file its next renewal application Feb. 1, 2014.

The commission has decided that overall, WKCR has served the public interest during its license term. That’s why it will grant the renewal separately once the forfeiture proceeding ends.

Columbia University has 30 days to appeal the penalty.