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KTCC Loses Appeal of Its Fine

Another case of missed paperwork deadlines costing an NCE station money

In a case with echoes of another we’ve reported, the FCC has issued a fine of $7,000 to Colby Community College and KTCC(FM) in Colby, Kan. This upholds a notice of apparent liability for that amount.

The station’s renewal application was due Feb. 1, 2005, four months prior to license expiration; but the station didn’t file until late August of that year, when it submitted the renewal application and a request for special temporary authority to keep operating. The commission granted that STA but that authority expired the following March. Several weeks later the station filed for an extension of the STA. This sequence parallels that in another recent case where the licensee missed important deadlines.

Among several arguments in appealing the KTCC fine, Instructor Corey Sorenson told the FCC the error was due to his predecessor’s failure to document the renewal process, as well as his own unfamiliarity with it.

Sorenson wrote that he “was not given any training on what needed to be done with regard to FCC filing, as no one at the college knew what the processes or requirements were.” He told the FCC he began the renewal process in January 2005 but “ran into some problems because there were no records for [the station’s] CORES password from the previous instructor.” He adds that he “filled out the licensee renewal” but “had misread the instructions and mistakenly thought [he] was finished.”

The FCC reminded the college that even inadvertent errors or failure to become familiar with the rules are considered “willful” violations. “Although we sympathize with the challenges described by Mr. Sorenson, Colby Community College, as the licensee, was ultimately responsible for ensuring it complied with the commission’s rules by filing a timely renewal application.”

Both the instructor and the president of the school also argued that the fine would cause a hardship. But the commission said it won’t consider inability to pay unless the licensee submits certain financial documentation. It said the college had not done so.

The commission staff said it found no reason to cancel or reduce the fine.