Pillsbury’s communications lawyers have published FCC Enforcement Monitor monthly since 1999 to inform our clients of notable FCC enforcement actions against FCC license holders and others. This month’s issue includes:
- Time Off the Air Leads to License Termination for North Dakota Radio Station
- FCC Enters Into Consent Decree With Tech Company Imposing $250,000 Civil Penalty for Unlawful License Transfers and Failure to Disclose a Felony
- Virginia Radio Station Faces Proposed $7,000 Fine and Reduced License Term Over Failure to Timely File its Renewal Application
The Sound of Silence: North Dakota Radio Station Faces License Termination After Prolonged Period Off-Air
After going off the air and remaining silent due to financial concerns, an FM station’s license was revoked for failure to timely resume operations.
Section 73.1740(a)(4) of the FCC’s Rules permits a licensee to temporarily discontinue operations for up to 30 days provided that the licensee: (1) notifies the FCC by the tenth day of discontinued operations, and (2) requests authorization from the Commission to remain silent for any period beyond 30 days. However, Section 312(g) of the Communications Act of 1934 provides that a broadcast station’s license automatically expires if it does not transmit a broadcast signal for 12 consecutive months. The FCC may extend or reinstate a license terminated by virtue of this provision if doing so would “promote equity and fairness.”
On August 15, 2018, the North Dakota licensee took the station off the air due to financial concerns. After several months of radio silence, the station finally requested special temporary authority (STA) to remain silent on October 30. Despite the delay, the FCC granted the STA for a period of 180 days, cautioning that the station’s license would expire as a matter of law if operations did not resume by 12:01 a.m. on August 16, 2019, when the station would reach 12 months of silent status. The Commission also noted that the STA request had failed to meet both the 10-day notification requirement and the 30-day deadline for seeking authorization for discontinued operations. At the end of the authorized 180 days, the licensee sought an extension of the STA, which the FCC granted, again reminding the licensee of the August 16, 2019 deadline to resume operations. Continue reading →