Originally posted on the Broadcast Law Blog.
As an FCC Forfeiture Order issued today proves, even noncommercial educational college radio stations need to comply with FCC rules to avoid big fines. The Commission confirmed a $10,000 forfeiture against Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire originally proposed in 2007. The college argued that the forfeiture should be reduced based on the station's noncommercial educational status, but the FCC said there is no policy justifying reduction on that basis.
We have previously noted Commission forfeitures in the range of $10,000 to $14,000 for public file violations. Today's decision confirms that the commercial or noncommercial status of the station is not a factor when it comes to compliance issues. In this case, the station was missing 14 quarterly issues/programs lists from its public inspection file.
The Commission has become quite vigilant lately, issuing fines and forfeitures for numerous rule violations. The bottom line is that all FCC rules must be followed to avoid monetary penalties, commercial or noncommercial status notwithstanding.