Late-filing NCE FM finds that time was kind of on its side


West Texas A&M University’s KWTS(FM) in Canyon TX experienced some difficulties with the FCC computer system and wound up missing the deadline to apply for its license renewal, and as often happens, subsequently operated the station without authorization. It still has to write a check to atone for its transgressions, but the amount of that check has shrunk twice.

The application was due 4/1/05. The license expired 8/1/05. The applications was not filed until 9/29/05, and an STA to operate the station until everything was processed was not requested until 3/23/06. On 1/31/07 the station was licensed, and on 2/12/07 the FCC issued the standard notice of apparently liability of $7K, $3K of which was for filing late and $4K of which was for unauthorized operation.

After the usual arguments – the violations were not willful – and some novel arguments, such as it wasn’t the stations fault that the FCC CDBS system was giving it fits and that the station’s engineer was told that it was operating properly by FCC staff – the fine stood.

WTA&MU did manage to get reductions of 20% for its clean record, bringing the total fine down to $5.6K. Still the station pressed its case for a reduction.

It got one, too, although not no the merits of its argument. It seems the $3K NAL came over a year after the violation. The operative dates listed above are 3/29/05 and 2/12/07. That put it outside the statute of limitations and beyond the reach of the FCC’s fining authority. So the $2.4K portion of the fine dissolved.

However, the other fine did make it in through the statute of limitations window, so WTA&MU is still liable for the remaining $3.2K.