License Renewal Reminders

Posted on January 30th, 2019 by

With license renewals starting later this year, two recent FCC fines – one for $495,000 and another for $144,344 – are timely reminders about how license renewal can go really wrong for some broadcast stations.

Let’s start with the smaller one. An LPTV station licensee never filed for a license renewal in 1998, was reminded by the FCC about this oversight in 2004, had its license cancelled in 2005 for not responding, and yet continued to operate the station without a license until FCC field agents visited in 2017 to tell them that they were violating the Communications Act. The end result was cash register windfall for the FCC, who assessed a monetary forfeiture of $144,344 for operating the station without a license for 18 years. Ouch. Lesson: Don’t forget to file your renewal application.

Now for the bigger one, which involved multiple NBC/Telemundo television stations. During the 2004-2007 and 2012-2015 renewal cycles, 23 of their stations failed to air sufficient amounts of children’s television core programming and occasionally failed to file the quarterly FCC Form 398 Children’s Television Report. Renewals were granted here pursuant to a Consent Decree, but not without a whopping $495,000 payment to the US Treasury and a compliance plan that would make your eyes water. Ouch. Lesson: Comply with the children’s television rules.