New horizons in consent decrees


A college radio station in Vermont ran afoul of not one, not two but three FCC regulations that commonly get licensees in trouble. It was late filing a license renewal application, it continued to operate without a license and it had public file woes. It has entered into a consent decree with the FCC to settle the matter. What’s different about this one is that instead of leaving the matter of guilt unresolved, as is usually the case in a decree, this time the licensee confessed.

The station is WVTC-FM Randolph Center VT, licensed to Vermont State Colleges. Its late renewal filing was no small matter – its application was due 12/1/05 ahead of a 4/1/06 license expiration date. The application didn’t make it to the FCC until 6/11/08.

Under terms of the consent decree agreement, the FCC has agreed that it will take no further action against the licensee. Usually, the licensee agrees to accept that and drop the case without having to admit any wrongdoing of any kind. But this time, the following phrases are part of the agreement:

“Licensee hereby stipulates that it violated the Filing Date Rule by failing to file a license renewal application for the Station on or before December 1, 2005, and that it violated Section 301 of the Act by continuing Station operations after the Station’s license had expired.”

“Licensee hereby stipulates that it has violated the Public File and Ownership Report Rules in its maintenance of the public file of the Station during the 1997-2005 license term.”

As part of the Decree, the licensee will submit to reporting conditions for three years to make sure it is in compliance with the rules. And it will make a $8.5K donation to the US Treasury.