Just how serious is a radio station licensee’s failure to pay delinquent regulatory fees and associated interest, administrative costs, and penalties owed to the FCC?
The owner of an FM radio station in North Carolina and the person who holds the license for a Georgia AM now know. They have to pay up, or show cause for a reduction or elimination of what’s owed to the Commission.
If not, they can kiss their station’s license goodbye.
An Order to Pay or Show Cause was issued to Durlyn Broadcasting Co., licensee of WPNC-FM in Plymouth, N.C., by the FCC on Tuesday (7/9).
The Class A serves an area of North Carolina east of Greenville and is branded as “Magic 95.9.”
According to the FCC, Durlyn currently has unpaid regulatory fees dating back to 2010.
Specifically, the following is owed by Durlyn to the Commission:
- $1,157.90 for FY 2010
- $1,085.44 for FY 2012
- $866.33 for FY 2013
- $1,644.02 for FY 2014
- $2,413.70 for FY 2015
- $2,453.61 for FY 2016
- $1,939.13 for FY 2018
Additional charges will continue to accrue on these debts until they are paid in full, the FCC’s Media Bureau said. Demand Letters, which demanded payment of Durlyn’s delinquent regulatory fees, were previously sent to the company.
Bill Benjamin, President/Owner and morning host of WPNC, was unaware of any of these delinquent payments when contacted by RBR+TVBR.
At first, he suggested that payments were supposed to have been made to the FCC on the company’s behalf through Durlyn’s now-fired legal counsel.
That would be Todd A. Steiner, formerly of Winchester, Va., based Harrison & Johnston PLC. He hasn’t been there for at least three years.
“If it comes in for him we probably just don’t accept it,” the firm’s front desk receptionist told RBR+TVBR when asked if what it does with mail or other communication directed to Steiner.
Mr. Steiner is now a sole practitioner and could not comment on the matter when reached by RBR+TVBR. “I don’t have a business relationship with Mr. Benjamin,” he said.
As such, it is now Durlyn’s responsibility — and that of Benjamin — to plead its case to the Commission. In subsequent conversations, Benjamin noted that Steiner is not at fault in this matter and said the FCC had an old mailing address for his station.
While outdated contact information at the FCC is likely the key reason for this action, Benjamin could not explain why regulatory fees remain outstanding, according to the Bureau.
Also ordered to pay up or face a license revocation hearing is WSRA-AM 1250 in Albany, Ga., an affiliate of NBC Sports Radio owned by Livingston Fulton.
Like Durlyn, Mr. Fulton has some explaining to do for ignoring the FCC’s regulatory payments for nearly a decade.
The Commission’s records show that Fulton currently has unpaid regulatory fees of $1,887.66 for 2010; $2,121.42 for 2012; $2,999.92 for 2013; $2,630.11 for 2014; $2,359.52 for 2015; and $1,805.39 for 2018.
A call to WSRA placed by a RBR+TVBR reporter yielded a voicemail.