In June, the licensee of an Alabama AM facing license revocation for unpaid regulatory fees was given a second chance, due to a “premature” action by the Media Bureau which was reversed.
Unfortunately, the licensee didn’t act, and the station’s license has been revoked.
Established in 1953, WGEA-AM 1150 was an Alabama radio station airing a Talk format owned by Shelley Broadcasting Co.
Starting in 2008, SBC couldn’t fork over payment to the Commission for its annual regulatory fees.
As such, by June 2019 WGEA had racked up unpaid regulatory fees of $1,172.14 for FY 2008; $1,239.47 for FY 2009; $1,212.73 for FY 2010; $1,207.72 for FY 2011; $903.00 for FY 2012; $970.35 for FY 2013; $1,163.17 for FY 2014; $1,075.80 for FY 2015; and $1,029.42 for FY 2016.
Because of these outstanding regulatory fee payments, a renewal application for WGEA-AM was dismissed, citing the FCC’s “red light” rules.
Then, in April 2017, the FCC cancelled the station’s license and deleted its call letters — a penalty for failure to fulfill its debts to the Commission.
SBC President H. Jack Mizell immediately filed a Petition for Reconsideration, noting that even though he was in poor health, he would somehow meet his obligation.
SBC also argued that its inability to pay stemmed from a longstanding dispute with the Internal Revenue Service, but this was never disclosed to the Media Bureau.
What saved WGEA and Mizell three months ago was the Bureau’s determination that, “while the staff clearly had the authority to dismiss the Renewal Application, we find that these other actions were premature.”
As such, the license revocation was reversed, and brought back to “pending” — so long as Mizell forked over the delinquent regulatory fees.
That didn’t happen. Instead, Mizell again noted that SBC is unable to pay its outstanding regulatory fees because the IRS “has allegedly withheld a sizeable refund owed to SBC’s president and his wife since 1987.”
The Media Bureau couldn’t consider this claim without documented proof.
“SBC’s claim of financial hardship is unsubstantiated,” it said. “The only evidence submitted
by SBC relates to an apparently unresolved dispute with the Internal Revenue Service over a refund that SBC’s President believes is owed to himself and his wife, individually. SBC has provided no documentary evidence that SBC itself is financially unable to pay the outstanding regulatory fee debt. In failing to provide the required documentation, SBC has not met its burden of showing extraordinary and compelling circumstances outweighing the public interest to justify a waiver of its outstanding regulatory fee obligations.”
As such, WGEA’s license was revoked, and the pending application for renewal was dismissed.
WGEA was a Class D with 1kw daytime/35 watts nighttime from 1 tower, serving an area southwest of Dothan, Ala.