FCC plays Ball with college station on file fine


FCCBall University’s WWHI-FM Muncie IN had missing issues/program lists from its public file, but managed to get out of the situation with a fine far lower than the commonly-assessed maximum penalty.

According to the FCC, “while applying for a license renewal, “Licensee answered ‘No’ to that certification and attached an Exhibit explaining the issues/programs lists for the last two quarters of 2004; the first three quarters of 2007; and the first, third, and fourth quarters of 2009 were missing from the Station’s public file.”

As a regular reader of FCC penalty documents, we can say that missing programs/issues lists is a common omission. In this case, however, the licensee stated its belief that the files have been compiled as required all along, but some of them are thought to have simply been discarded by student staffers at various points in time.

The FCC could have hit the station with a $10K fine, and went so far as to say the omissions were serious, constituting eight quarters worth of omissions in all.

Without going into much detail on why it did so, the FCC said that it accepted the licensee’s explanation for the missing files, and let it off the hook for $9K in potential liability, hitting it with a much smaller $10K fine.

It also said there was no pattern of regulatory abuse at the station, said it was operating in the public interest, and granting it a license renewal – warning it to cease and desist from its public file failures.