College station fails to wriggle out of late renewal fine


The Board of Trustees of Davis & Elkins College attempt to erase a $7K fine for failure to timely renew the license for its WCDE-FM Elkins WV fell on deaf FCC ears. This regulatory drama dates back to 6/1/03, when the renewal application should have been filed with the Commission.

The application still had not been filed by 10/1/03, when the station’s license expired. Finally, on 1/7/04 the station got its application in. It was hit with the standard $7K fine the FCC levies for very late filing and resultant unauthorized operation of the station.

The NAL for the $7K didn’t come until 1/9/04, and the college/station is making its second attempt to get out of it.

Here are the arguments:

* It wasn’t a deliberate violation and was quickly rectified. This argument never flies with the Commission; in this case it says it has already addressed the argument and will not go over the same territory again.

* There should be no fine for not filing since ultimately the application was filed. The FCC basically explained that late is late, and there is no merit to the argument.

* The fine leads to “a grossly unfair result,” in that it will come out of the activities fund of members of the current student body, who had nothing to do with the violation when it occurred. The FCC said this could and should have been brought up during the first appeal; since it could have been, the FCC will not consider it now. Nevertheless, were it to consider the argument, it still wouldn’t fly. In short, the FCC is not telling the college to pay the fine with student activity funds; that is the licensee’s decision. And since the licensee did not provide documentation to demonstrate that it cannot pay the forfeiture, the forfeiture stands.