FCC, Federal Communications CommissionA Mississippi AM station finds itself liable for a monetary forfeiture of $7,000 after allegedly operating the station without authority.

Magnolia State Broadcasting, licensee of station WMOX(AM) in Meridian, Miss., was required to renew its broadcast license on Feb. 3, 2020, which was four months before the station’s license was set to expire on June 1, 2020. No application was filed on time, the Media Bureau said, and the station’s license expired. On June 5, Magnolia sought reinstatement of the station’s license, which the bureau treated as a petition for reconsideration. The bureau granted the petition, reinstated the station’s license and had the application formally filed on Sept. 25, 2021.

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But the Media Bureau said that Magnolia did not request special temporary authority to operate the station following the expiration of the station’s license. And because the station continued operating after the license expired, the Media Bureau said Magnolia was in violation of FCC rules. The licensee also failed to comply with the Communications Act by broadcasting for more than one day with an expired license.

The commission’s forfeiture policy establishes a base forfeiture amount of $3,000 for failure to file a license renewal application on time. The guidelines also specify a base forfeiture amount of $10,000 for operation without authorization. However, the commission can adjust the base amount upward or downward as it sees fit.

In its review of the facts and circumstances — including that Magnolia failed to file its license renewal application on time, continued to operate the station after the license expired and never filed an STA to operate the station after its license expired — the bureau proposed a final amount of $7,000.

Despite the forfeiture, the bureau found that Magnolia’s violation of the rules and the act do not present serious violations. The bureau also found no evidence that the violations constitute a pattern of abuse.

As a result the bureau agreed to grant Magnolia’s application as soon as this forfeiture proceeding is resolved. Magnolia has 30 days to submit payment.

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