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University to pay $7,000 fine to FCC

Botched license renewal caused WZRD to broadcast illegally

By Mike Arch
On March 27, 2007

In the process of the renewal of WZRD's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) license the university was fined $7,000. They were fined $3,000 for failure to file for a timely renewal application and $4,000 for operating without a FCC license.

WZRD 88.3 FM, the university's student-run radio station, was granted a renewal of their license from the FCC, according to documents sent by the FCC to former University President Salme Steinberg on Feb. 9, 2007.

Peter Enger Station Manager for WZRD said, "You are supposed to renew the licenses every seven years which came up three years ago."

The station manager at the time, Alyssa Coiley, was unaware of the license expiration. Station managers at WZRD generally don't serve more than a year in the position.

The document from the FCC said; the Initial License expired December 1, 2004. The renewal should have been filed four months before the license expired on August 1, 2004. The renewal was filed Dec. 8, 2004 one week after the license expired."

A Special Temporary Authority (STA) license was applied for on Feb. 10, 2005 and granted on Feb. 11, 2005 between then WZRD was operating without a license. The STA is a temporary FCC license that allows a station to run for a short period of time. There was no explanation given for failure for a timely renewal. The STA expired Aug. 11, 2005 Another STA was requested on Aug. 26, 2005 and granted Aug. 29, 2006.

The FCC can fine up to $10,000 for operating without a license. Seeing as the maximum fine for a 'pirate' radio station is $10,000 and that NEIU is not considered a 'pirate' radio station the FCC lowered the maximum fine to $4,000 with the $3,000 to file a timely renewal the total is $7,000.

The FCC has decided to renew the license for WZRD based on three items of criteria that the station meets. The document stated, "In evaluating an application for license renewal, upon consideration of the application and pleadings, we find that: (1) the station has served the public interest, convenience, and necessity; (2) there have been no serious violations of the Act or the Rules; and (3) there have been no other violations which, taken together, constitute a pattern of abuse, we are to grant the renewal application."

WZRD's university account will not be charged for the fine. Peter Enger said, "The University holds the licenses and is responsible for the license renewal, so they will pay the fees."

When asked about WZRD and the FCC fines Director of Student Activities Sharron Evans said, "I'm not going into it. I have no comment on that."

Enger said that WZRD is currently operating with a few exceptions. They are down for about three hours a day for equipment upgrades.

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