The license renewal application of WTIC-AM, filed in November 2013, remains on “enforcement hold” at the Federal Communications Commission, as the agency’s Enforcement Bureau considers “an alleged violation of FCC rules,” according to an FCC official. Until the enforcement hold is lifted, the agency’s Media Bureau cannot proceed with a decision on whether or not to renew the station’s broadcast license. The Enforcement Bureau must first determine whether or not a violation of FCC rules has occurred. If the allegation is substantiated, the agency has a range of options, such as warning that the violation not be repeated or imposing a monetary fine on the station, according to FCC officials.
An FCC spokesman said in late August that the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau began expediting its review of complaints that hold up license renewals last year. That expedited review of a backlog of pending complaints enabled the Media Bureau to grant over 950 license renewals in the last few months of 2014. WTIC-AM was not among them. The accelerated pace has continued, but officials would not predict when the complaint filed related to the pending WTIC-AM renewal would be considered.
WTIC-AM, which is licensed to Hartford but operates from studios in Farmington, can continue broadcasting under the broadcast license that expired 17 months ago, on April 1, 2014, until the FCC acts on its renewal application. The renewal application was filed by the station nearly two years ago, on November 27, 2013. Stations must file an application for license renewal four months prior to the expiration date of the station’s license.
Precisely what the allegation under review involves is not made known to the public. That information is only made available to the licensee or their attorney, according to an FCC official. The agency can, and often does, communicate with the station as part of their review process. WTIC has previously declined to comment on the ongoing review process at the FCC.
Officials say it is not unusual for a license renewal to be on enforcement hold for an extended period of time. Stations in such a status routinely continue to operate without any interruption until a decision on license renewal is made.
When the license renewal application does reach the agency’s Media Bureau, they will consider “how the allegation of violation was resolved,” as well as a range of other factors in deciding whether or not to renew the station’s license. The other, more routine, factors include whether any other objections have been raised about the station, whether the station has been adequately serving the public in their area of license, their history of compliance with FCC regulations, and their overall performance. License renewals for radio stations are issued by the FCC for a period of eight years.
Connecticut by the Numbers first reported the FCC’s enforcement hold nearly a year ago, in September 2014. Subsequently, Hartford Attorney Ken Krayeske filed an informal objection on October 1, 2014 to WTIC’s broadcast license renewal, alleging that the station “demonstrated serious malfeasance” and “helped conceal violations of federal law,” related to former Governor John Rowland’s use of the WTIC radio program he hosted to promote the Congressional campaign of Lisa Wilson-Foley. Krayeske had filed a previous complaint in 2012 that did not result in FCC action against the station.