License Renewal Penalties Turn On How Bad You’ve Been

Posted on October 4th, 2013 by

 For most broadcast stations, license renewal is straightforward and uneventful.  But for some who have not always followed the rules to the letter (or have suffered from temporary amnesia as to whether there are rules), life is not so nice during renewal.  This past week teaches that how the FCC treats you when your renewal has a few regulatory “warts” can range from a lenient hand slap to an eviscerating blow.

 Lenient first.  Two television stations that filed their license renewal applications 10 and 11 days late respectively received admonishment letters from the FCC along with a full license renewal.  The FCC cautioned that it might have more severe sanctions for any future late-filing.

 Now for the eviscerating blow.  A noncommercial FM radio station in New Mexico filed for license renewal, voluntarily reporting that for six years, it had failed to complete or place in its public file the required quarterly issues/programs list.  The FCC found this oversight to be a “serious” violation of its rules, charaterized the licensee’s actions as “cavalier,” fined the station $12,000 and then renewed the license for a shortened term of only four years (half the normal eight-year term).  The FCC stated that the shortened term would afford it another opportunity to review the Station’s compliance.