In April 2007, the FCC issued a $7,000 forfeiture to an Alabama AM broadcaster for failing to timely file its license renewal application in violation of Section 73.3539 of the FCC's Rules. Section 73.3539 requires licensees to file an FCC Form 303-S, the license renewal application, four months prior to expiration of the current license. Failure to timely file a license renewal application also implicates Section 301 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the ”Act”) regarding unauthorized operation of a broadcast station. Specifically, any operations beyond the expiration date of a station license are considered unauthorized and in direct violation of the Act where a timely license renewal application has not been filed.
The AM broadcaster‘s application, which was due to be filed in December 2003, was not submitted to the FCC until March 2005, more than 15 months after the statutory filing deadline. The FCC granted the late license renewal application in January 2007, but released an NAL regarding the matter four months after that.
Pursuant to Section 503(b)(6)(A) of the Act, where a license renewal has been recently granted, a forfeiture may not be imposed if the alleged violation occurred more than one year prior to the NAL. In this instance, the alleged violations occurred over a 15 month period ending in March 2005. Consequently, the 2007 NAL, issued approximately 24 months after the violation had ceased, was issued in violation of the time limit, and was therefore cancelled by the FCC.