License Renewal Concerns, And The Dollars That Feed The Worry

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Here’s some advice to radio station owners from featured Media Information Bureau columnist Ken Benner: “As thousands of licensees struggle with the massive renewals for their various items, don’t forget your license to microwave your signal from your studio to transmitter, your vehicle for remote broadcasts, your individual translators, etc. Generally, they all come due at the same time.”


That could cost you, Benner writes:

“You also might want to cancel your monthly account executive bonuses along with your own salary to fund the potential legal expenses to process your applications and to defend your operation from potential challenges for any number of items such as a missed EAS test, failed Equal Employment hoop jumping, alleged signal interference (such as your signal competing with a nearby sound system), public file missteps, such as an updated letters file from the public, required logs, etc., etc.”

Benner adds, “As you complete License Renewal form #303-S, be sure to truthfully address this item:

4. FCC Violations during the Preceding License Term. Licensee certifies that, with respect to the stations(s) for which renewal is requested, there have been no violations by the licensee of the Communications Act of 1934’ as amended, or rules or regulations of the Commission during the preceding license term. If No, the licensee must submit and explanatory exhibit providing complete descriptions of all violations

That double negative “no” in that requirement has had many licensees confused with the final sentence. For Benner, its second use implies in effect, “No” — you have no sins to confess committed during your current term of licensing.

“When you carefully think about it, it actually reads to the effect: No, I can’t certify sinlessness, and no I have not been sinless over the past almost 8 years of my licenses and that I have violations to confess and thus I can expect possible substantial fines generally starting at $10,000 per violation plus large legal costs to defend me,” Benner said. “Clever rhetoric isn’t it? It’s almost like the fine print in so many of our insurance and financial contracts these days.”

Benner continues that license renewal time has long been regarded as “required confession time and woe be unto you if you and your staff have not been absolutely sinless over the past almost 8 years.”

What if you subscribed to one of the “Mock” or Alternative inspections, one that Benner or one of his colleagues has conducted across several years?

“For many years such perception was that a violation is a violation regardless who discovered it and must be confessed at license renewal,” he says. “About ten years ago I brought this to the attention of the Commission, which promptly issued a statement that any violation found during an Alternative Inspection but corrected prior to license renewal need not be confessed as described above. Once again I question who writes this legislation?”

In typical Benner fashion, he concludes by asking who profits from what appears to be substantial, intentional “complexifiation.”

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