If we happened to hold a radio license, and if we also happened to have $10,000, we’d like to hang on to both. That’s why we would make it a point to follow the FCC’s rules and regulations regarding the care and feeding of the station’s public file. In today’s case of a file gone awry, there was also another fine on the bill.
The stations in question are WJMS-AM and WIMI-FM, both of Ironwood MI and both licensed to J&J Broadcasting Inc.
A 9/14/11 FCC inspection of the stations found that neither had the dreaded issues/programs lists in their public file dating to J&J’s February 2010 acquisition of the stations. That amounted to five missing quarterly reports. The stations’ general manager had no explanation for their absence.
Additionally, the FCC agent doing the inspection discovered that J&J took over ownership of the WIMI tower. However, it was still registered to Roberts Broadcasting Inc. d/b/a WIMI FM. That got J&J in hot water for failing to inform the FCC of the change in tower ownership.
The file fine was the standard $10K, and the failure to update the tower ownership fine was good for $3K, resulting in a $13K total.
At that, J&J may have been lucky. Since neither station had the issues/program lists, we believe the FCC could have hit each for a $10K fine, which would have jacked the final assessment up to $23K.
Of course, the best policy is to maintain the lists and make sure they are available at all times.