Timely filing is worth it


Sumter Baptist Temple’s WSSC-AM in Sumter SC was late getting its license renewal application in, and was hit with a $6K fine as a result. This slow-moving case dates back to the application not file, which the FCC says should have been no later than 8/1/03 to meet its 12/1/03 expiration date.

The paperwork finally made it in 12/16/03. For some reason, it wasn’t until two years later that the station filed for a Special Temporary Authority to continue operating the station. It discovered in an unrelated filing that the counsel for the renew filing did not inform them of its tardiness.

SBT attempted to get the forfeiture canceled due to the inadvertence of the offense, its remedial actions, its lack of financial resources and its overall record of compliance.

The first two arguments never get one anywhere with the FCC. As for the financials, it offered only a one-page summary of expenses and receipts for 2004 and 2005 – the FCC prefers tax documents and considered this inadequate. However, it did reduce the fine to $4.8K on the overall record of compliance peg.

RBR/TVBR observation: There are several levels to the filing late fine. Some get the application in before expiration but without allowing enough time for the FCC to review it. The worst case is when the application isn’t filed until after expiration, in which case the station, if it’s still on the air, technically becomes an unlicensed spectrum pirate. So this station may have gotten off easy.