New horizons in late filing fines


Maintaining a valid operating license is an existential matter for a broadcast station, yet numerous broadcasters fail to get the application in on time, and often are so late getting the application in that they wind up with an unauthorized operation fine on top of the failure to submit required paperwork fine. But we can’t recall ever seeing a licensee blaming the station’s engineer.

Such is the story for R&M Broadcasting Company’s KJCB-AM in Lafayette LA. It’s troubles date back to 2/1/04, when it missed the deadline to apply for a new license ahead of its 6/1/04 license expiration date. It did get an application in before that time, on 2/17/04, but it was dismissed because it already owed the FCC money.

It continued to operate nevertheless, and finally, it was caught by the on FCC 4/29/10. Some back-and-forth took place, during which the station continued to operate, up until 4/5/11.

The licensee said it had been “misinformed” by the station’s engineer as to the proper steps to take to get its license up-to-date, and also said it was too poor to pay the $13K in total fines charged by the FCC.

As usual, the FCC would not accept any attempt to transfer responsibility for the infraction, which always falls squarely on the licensee, who is expected to know the rules and to follow them without recourse to the advice of others.

As for the licensee’s inability to pay, it did not provide tax returns, the FCC’s preferred form of evidence. Instead, it took the novel approach of sending in “Salesman Performance Reports.” The FCC labeled them pacing reports and said they were not acceptable for the purpose.

The $13K fine stands. But at least the 770 kHz station has a license again.