FCC hits the Dakotas to post its latest fines


And sure enough, they are for late-filed license renewal applications. Today’s victims are KBJM-AM Lemmon SD, licensed to Media Associates Inc., and KNDC-AM Hettinger ND, licensed to Schweitzer Media Inc.

Once again, we will remind licensees that the paperwork is due in a full four months before the license actually expires. If that benchmark is missed, but the application arrives at the Commission prior to expiration, a relatively small fine is usually applied to the miscreant. But if the application comes in after expiration, the offense moves into the unauthorized zone and the fine becomes much heftier.

In the case of KBJM, the app was due 12/1/04 in advance of a 4/1/05 expiration date. The failure to renew got to the point that on 6/27/06, the FCC terminated the station. Thus alarmed to its unauthorized status, the station quickly took action and the FCC allowed it to remain in operation.

KBJM tried to duck the ensuing $7K fine by claiming that the FCC failed to levy it before the statute of limitations ran out. The FCC said to the contrary, the statute started tolling in July of 2006, when the station applied and the FCC granted an STA to remain in operation. The initial finding of apparent liability came in March 2007, well within the applicable time frame.

KBJM also angled for a reduction based on its overall record of compliance, but was done in on the basis of the KNDC case referenced in the opening paragraph.

The KNDC case mirrored the KBJM case in just about every significant detail. This is not a surprising fact when one takes into account that the majority owner of both stations is Michael J. Schweitzer.

So the mirror-image failures to comply with timely filing regulations created a mirror-image failure to own a spotless regulatory record, and each station remains liable for a $7K fine.