New horizons in FCC fine-ducking attempts


FCCLeave it to the academic world to find new ways to try to get out of an FCC rule violation assessment. Vacations and weekends figured in this one.

There were two violations at Bethany College’s WVBC-FM in Bethany WV. For starters, it was late getting its license renewal application into the FCC, and on top of that, it was off the air without permission.

The license renewal was due 6/1/11 ahead of a 10/1/11 expiration date. The college, without explanation, managed to get it in late but just ahead of expiration on 9/30/11 – that earned it the standard $1.5K late-filing fine. It might have been happy about that – had it applied after the license expired it would have added unauthorized operation into the regulatory mix, and the fine would likely have soared to $7K.

It also stated it had been off air from 10/12/10 to 9/28/11. It did not get the necessary FCC OK for its prolonged silence, which the FCC pegged at 351 days. This was a $5K violation.

The total owed for the two violations was $6.5K.

Bethany tried to get out of the fines first by stating to the FCC that its violations were minor, and for that reason the fines should be reduced or cancelled. All we know is that we would not expect to get out of a speeding ticket by using the same argument in traffic court.

As for the prolonged silence, Bethany said that it was authorized to be off-air at certain times since it was an educational institution, citing summer break, various holidays and weekends. The FCC determined that at maximum, giving it credit for this, it was excused from operating for 216 days. That leaves 133 days. The longest period for allowable station silence without FCC permission is 30 days, so that fine stands as well.

Bethany College still owes $6.5K.