Is it true that the Federal Communications Commission has zero tolerance when it comes to violation of rules set earlier? Will the violator who asks for permission be exempted? The answer to both is No way! The decision of the Media Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission passed recently clearly proves this fact. The whole situation came to light in New York when two commonly-owned entities decided to exchange stations. They made use of the third license for this swap.
The parties decided to execute a time brokerage agreement which would permit them to commence operating as if the swap had occurred with the permission of the Commission. Normally executing a TBA is noncontroversial. However in this case, by executing the TBA, the buyer exceeded the limit of the maximum number of stations under common control. The Commission has the power to refuse to grant the assignment application of the buyer. Here this assignment application filed with the commission contained a temporary waiver request to get control of the stations. However, they parties involved did not wait for the Commission to grant the waiver and went ahead to implement the TBA without obtaining the Commission’s consent.
The commission without any hesitation denied the waiver request. The parties were also charged a forfeiture of $20,000. The lifeline given to the parties was that their assignment applications were rejected without any prejudice. So they could reapply for the same. However the next time they were asked to wait for the Commission to consider the waiver and grant permission before commencing operation of TBA. This incident is a gentle reminder to all FCC licensees that “business expedience is not synonymous with the public interest.” Business enterprises should not forget that they have to move through the proper channel and wait for The Federal Communications Commission to grant permission as and when required.