Southern Broadcasting & Investment Company, licensee of WBTY(FM) Homerville GA, may be happy with the $7K fine it has just been hit with by the FCC based on incidents dating back to 2004 – in fact, the first deadline missed in this case as noted by the FCC was 12/1/03, when the station’s license renewal application was due.
The renewal application is supposed to occur four months prior to license expiration. WBTY didn’t get around to doing so until 4/5/04, at which point it asked for an STA to continue operating. The STA was granted 4/20/04 and expired 10/20/04, but the station still did not have a license.
That’s because it was red-flagged for owing the FCC money. The Commission did not offer any details on the nature of the debt, but it did prevent the issuance of a renewed license.
All of this apparently went unnoticed until 5/24/10, when the FCC notified SBIC that it couldn’t get a license until the debt was settled. That event took place 7/21/10. The station was essentially operating as a pirate during the interim.
The FCC does not consider such situations to be the same coming by a tardy licensee as it does when an individual with no prior licensed claim to a particular frequency commandeers it. The FCC said it could hit the station with two fines totaling $13K, but opted for $7K instead, and finally granted a renewed license.