The attempt to transfer the license of WHEO-AM Stuart VA, in the rural southwest corner of the state, has attached to it a felonious debt-ridden, tax-avoiding seller, and three prior unauthorized transfers of control, which tie in a buyer who agreed to a consent decree/treasury contribution.
The licensee is Mountain View Communications, owned by Jamie T. Clark. Clark pled guilty to a felony child pornography charge and faces three years in prison.
He had been in the process of paying off a promissory note tied to his acquisition of the station to H. Dean Goad. Eventually, Clark’s legal problems overtook his ability to pay Goad or numerous other creditors, including several tax collecting agencies.
Goad’s sale of a 51% stake in WHEO was the third for which shares in the station were transferred among various partial stakeholders without FCC approval – which was not forthcoming because the FCC never received notification.
Quickly moving the story forward, Goad is 50% partner in Patrick County Communications, which is trying to buy the station for $150K.
Objections raised state that the amount is not enough to pay off all creditors; however, apparently it will satisfy most debts other than those owed IRS, which would get a partial payment of $11K and has signed off on the deal (FCC believes Clark will ultimately be responsible for the rest of his IRS debt but that’s between him and them).
Normally, a seller lacking requisite licensee character is not allowed to benefit from the sale of a station, but the FCC is following precedent and allowing this one since Clark will receive nothing and creditors will receive everything.
Further, it will preserve the only broadcast service in Stuart.
The FCC saw no point in the empty gesture of hitting Clark with a notice of apparent liability for the prior unauthorized transfer of control. It did not feel like blithely letting the matter go with Goad, however, who will become an active licensee. It notes that there was no overt motive to deceive or do wrong in the prior unapproved transfers, and signed onto a consent decree with Goad in which no liability is assigned, no wrong-doing is charged, and in which Goad makes a voluntary $8K contribution to the US Treasury and promises never to do it again.
RBR-TVBR observation: We again applaud the FCC for putting the interests of the WHEO audience and those who would invest in keeping it on the air ahead of hard-nosed and inflexible service of the rules. The FCC is clearly using the rules as framework and working within them toward achieving the best possible outcome, and that’s a very good thing.