Stations duck fines for failure to renew license


Getting out of paying a fine is usually a good thing, but the circumstance that most often gets that result is one that most broadcasters would prefer not to mimic – the utter inability to pay it. But there are other, better reasons to get off the hook.

Such is the case for WTCL-AM Chattahoochee FL, licensed to Metz Inc. The station was late renewing its license, and operated after it had expired, and was hit with a $7K fine. Metz said that the station changed address and neglected to inform the FCC, and therefore missed getting a reminder to renew – no way to get out of paying a fine.

However, it also said it suffered a catastrophic lightning strike in 2001 and eventually went bankrupt while trying to get the station back up to snuff, all while another family business was failing. Accompanying financial documents led the FCC to cancel the fine and replace it with an admonishment.

The situation with Faith Bible College’s WTGF-FM Milton FL was different. The FCC thought it filed late for renewal, and hit it with a $7K fine, and even went so far as to delete the station from the Commission’s database. However, the station did file on a timely basis – on paper. That’s only OK if prior FCC approval to use paper instead of electronic filing has been obtained. But since the renewal app was in fact filed, the FCC canceled the fine with an admonishment for using paper.