NCE Station Loses Fine Appeal


Dollar SignWhether an NCE station is partially or all-volunteer-staffed can make a difference in how it’s treated by the commission. That distinction is important when it comes to a big fine.

Peconic Public Broadcasting asked the FCC to reduce or eliminate a $10,000 fine for public file violations.

Peconic is the licensee of WPPB(FM), Southampton, N.Y., which neglected to place 13 quarterly issues program lists in its public file. In its appeal, the broadcaster said the omissions were a mistake, its public service should be considered and cited its previously clean record as a licensee.

The Media Bureau previously rejected all those arguments and said a fine reduction wasn’t warranted because of the “extensive” violations. It has now done so again.

The license also said the way the agency determines the fines is unfair to public broadcasters that are volunteer-staffed. The agency said Peconic “mischaracterizes” the policy, because the FCC does distinguish between completely student-run NCE stations and those that have some paid staff. Since WPPB falls into the latter category, it had staff who should know how to comply with the rules, said the agency.

Despite numerous attempts by FCC staff to get Peconic to submit documents of an inability to pay, it didn’t.

For all these reasons, the bureau rejected the broadcaster’s appeal.