WALO-LP in West Palm Beach had to vacate Channel 53, and was authorized to begin digital operation on Channel 44. However, it failed to get on the air on Channel 44 within 12 months, had its license rescinded according to the rules and has failed to get it back on appeal.
According to the rules, any station that is off air for a full year is to be shut down.
The station did go back on the air before the 12-month period elapsed, but it did so on Channel 53, for which it no longer had a license.
The station’s licensee, Spirit Productions, appealed to have the license reinstated. It said it was unaware that it was not allowed to use its former channel to meet the on-air requirement; it also suggested that forfeiture would be a more appropriate punishment than utter elimination. Spirit also pointed out that the Channel 44 CP did not expire until 9/1/15.
The FCC noted that ignorance of the rules is no excuse. It said that operating on the wrong channel was the same as not operating at all in terms of the rules; and said that allowing the on-air requirement to be met with an unauthorized broadcast was not its intent.
The FCC further stated that it has very limited leeway in regards to its actions in the case of a dark station. It explained that it has granted extensions to stations that fell victim to natural disasters and things of that nature, but noted that none of those types of circumstances were present in this case.
The petition for reconsideration was therefore denied.