Paper trail travail


MVB Inc.’s WWGC-AM Albertville AL was hit for a $1.5K fine for filing late for its license renewal – generally, the medium tier fine for a station which files after the official deadline but before the license expires. MVB replied that it did file – on paper. Unfortunately, it became mandatory to file such forms electronically earlier in the year. However, the station got off with an admonishment.

The expiration date for the station’s license was 4/1/04, making the renewal app due by 12/1/03. There was no mention if or when the FCC received a paper application, but the proper electronic filing didn’t show up at the Commission until 2/19/04.

The station said it deserved to get off the hook because at least it filed, if improperly, and that it wasn’t aware of the electronic requirement at the time. It also said that the FCC, which did not assess the fine until 12/6/06, was untimely in delivering its punishment, which it said should have been within a year of the 12/1/03 failure to apply.

The FCC explained that being unaware of a rule is not an excuse – licensees are expected to know the rules.

As for the timing, the FCC said that while this matter had been pending, the “old” license was extended, and the new license in limbo. Until the new license went into effect, the FCC’s action would be timely. Basically, the violation needed to be addressed before the new license could be granted.

All things considered, and given the relative newness of the electronic requirement, the FCC did decide to let the station off the hook, replacing the $1.5K fine with a simple admonishment.