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FCC Fines Methow Valley Communications

FCC seal
(Image credit: FCC)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Media Bureau of the FCC has issued an opinion and order fining Methow Valley Communications for violations relating to TV translator station K44EN-D in Methow Washington.

The FCC ordered that Methow be fined $6,500 for the violations, which included operating a station without a license for more than three years. 

It noted however that upon the completion of this forfeiture proceeding it would grant Methow a license for the translator station "if there are no issues other than the apparent violation."

In explaining its ruling, the FCC said that in 2017 the TV translator station was displaced off channel 44, a portion of which had been reassigned to wireless broadband services, and Methow Valley Communications, which had the permit for the station, filed a request to continue temporarily operating the station. 

The FCC said it “subsequently granted the channel 36 digital displacement application for on November 26, 2018, with an expiration date of November 26, 2021.  However, Permittee did not file an application for license to cover by November 26, 2021, and the Displacement CP [construction permit] expired on its own terms that day pursuant to section 74.788(b) of the Rules.” 

The FCC noted that Methow told the agency that it had "completed construction of the Station in accordance with the construction permit granted by the Commission and previously commenced operation of those facilities pursuant to a valid STA in June 2018.  Permittee states that it overlooked submitting the license to cover at that time.”

In response the FCC said that “administrative oversight is not an excuse for failure to comply with the Commission’s rules.”

In imposing the $6,500 fine, the FCC noted that it had fined other LPTV and TV translator licensees $3,500 but imposed a higher amount in this case because the “[l]icensee failed to file a timely license to cover for the Station when it completed construction of its Displacement CP facilities in the Fall of 2018,  and not only filed its Application nearly six months after its construction permit expired, but engaged in unauthorized operation of the Station for over three years.”

“[W]e find the Licensee’s failure represents extreme disregard, or at best ignorance, of Commission’s licensing processes and the Act itself,” the FCC order stated. “We will also grant the Permittee’s waiver request and waive section 74.788 of the Rules,  reinstate the construction permit, and grant the Application by separate action upon the conclusion of this forfeiture proceeding if there are no issues other than the apparent violation that would preclude grant of the Application.”

The order also states that Methow had 30 days to pay the fine or to file a petition to have the fine reduced or canceled. 

George Winslow is the senior content producer for TV Tech. He has written about the television, media and technology industries for nearly 30 years for such publications as Broadcasting & Cable, Multichannel News and TV Tech. Over the years, he has edited a number of magazines, including Multichannel News International and World Screen, and moderated panels at such major industry events as NAB and MIP TV. He has published two books and dozens of encyclopedia articles on such subjects as the media, New York City history and economics.