Late-filed renewal fines keep on coming


Lately we’ve seen broadcast license renewals that were not filed until after the license had expired, resulting in unauthorized operation of what would be a pirate station if it had not even been licensed, and we saw one where it went beyond that level to the point where the station was deleted. Today’s case is in a more benign category.

John Robert Williamson’s WGYV(AM) in Greenville AL was late, but got its renewal application in before the license expired.

It’s supposed to be in the FCC’s hands four months prior to expiration. In the case of WGYV, it was due 12/1/03 in anticipation of a 4/1/04 expiration date. However, it wasn’t filed until 2/24/04.

If WGYV had filed within a reasonable time but after 4/1/04, the fine likely would have been $7K. But since it beat that date, it was hit with an assessment of only $1.5K.

Williamson pleaded ignorance – he was a new licensee at the time, but that pleading never ever works. He also cited financial hardship, but failed to provide documentation to back up that claim.

For the record, the FCC says it needs one of three types of evidence if a pleading of poverty is being made: “(1) federal tax returns for the most recent three-year period; (2) financial statements prepared according to generally accepted accounting practices (“GAAP”); or (3) some other reliable and objective documentation that accurately reflect the licensee’s current financial status.”

With ignorance not an acceptable excuse, and with no evidence of financial distress, the fine stands at $1.5K.