Community Radio of Decorah, Postville and Northeast Iowa should be happy.
It has been granted the construction permit for low-power FM KCOD-LP 104.1 in rural Decorah, Iowa.
However, Community Radio is not likely jumping for joy over the news: The FCC further directed its Media Bureau to initiate investigative and enforcement proceedings against Community Radio.
Why? It lied to the Commission.
In a Memorandum Opinion and Order released Wednesday (11/2) by the FCC, petitioners Wennes Communications Stations and Decorah Broadcasting, the respective licensees of commercial radio stations KVIK-FM and KDEC-AM & FM in Decorah, lost their attempt to deny Community Radio from getting the CP.
But, Community Radio has “apparently violated” Section 1.17(a)(2) of its rules. In plain language, this means Community Radio is accused of misrepresentation.
On Nov. 6, 2013, Community Radio filed the application for KCOD’s construction permit. The application was certified by James Glesne, a local reverend who was listed as one of three “general partners” of Community Radio, a non-profit Iowa corporation incorporated on June 13, 2008.
Included in its language was a certification that no party to the application held an attributable interest in any other broadcast station or other media subject to the Commission’s LPFM broadcast cross-ownership restrictions. Accordingly, the FCC granted the application in March 2014.
However, less than two weeks before the application was granted, the Postville Chamber of Commerce filed an ownership report for its noncommercial KPVL-FM in nearby Postville, Iowa. This report disclosed that Glesne is a member-at-large of the chamber’s governing board. This led the petitioners to seek rescission of the KCOD grant.
The reconsideration was denied by the FCC on the grounds that the petitioners didn’t show good reason as to why it did not participate earlier in the proceeding, given the timing of the KPVL ownership report.
Glesne has since resigned his position on the chamber.
This helps greatly, the FCC notes.
“As Glesne has now divested his attributable interest in the Chamber, we see no reason to modify the KCOD-LP permit to add such a condition,” it says. “However, because Community Radio’s Application did not disclose Glesne’s other broadcast interest, we order Community Radio to attach to its license application a certification, executed by one of its principals under penalty of perjury, that all parties to the application, including Glesne, are in compliance with the cross-ownership limits set forth in … our rules.”
Community Radio now has an 18-month extension of its original construction permit, noting its leniency with LPFM licensees as diversity trumps timeliness: Community Radio sought extension, by e-mail, three months after its original construction permit had expired, “containing only the most minimal good cause showing.”
The Commission further noted, “Recognizing the lack of experience of certain LPFM permittees, the Bureau has been lenient with LPFM applicants.”
In a concurring statement, Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai took issue with the apparent back-dating of Glesne’s resignation from the Chamber.
“The Media Bureau specifically directed Community Radio to make its response to the petitioner’s allegations under penalty of perjury,” Pai said. “It is troubling (and perhaps telling) that it failed to do so. Honest mistakes happen. But so do intentional misrepresentations. The tribulations of Community Radio prove the latter point.”
RBR + TVBR