FCC Fines TV Stations for Late-Filed Renewal Applications

Posted on February 28th, 2023 by

The FCC recently assessed a $13,500 monetary forfeiture to the owner of nine low power television stations in Utah that filed renewal applications for the stations 71 days later than the required deadline.  Though the base forfeiture for late-filed renewals is $3,000 per station, the FCC lowered the amount per station to $1500 because the translators were providing fill-in service to areas that might not have otherwise been able to receive the television service.

We note that in the license renewal cycle that will end this summer, the FCC’s typical posture on late-filed renewals was to issue fines.  For stations with timely filed renewals, but compliance issues related to the online file, political file, or other required filings, the FCC’s preferred solution – due to the COVID pandemic that depressed station revenues – was a consent decree and compliance plan instead of a fine.  In the next license renewal cycle beginning in 2027, we anticipate a forfeiture-heavy approach for compliance issues.  Regular diligence and two-person control on required uploads and filings is the best defense against compliance issues that can result in fines.