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FCC Revokes FM License for Criminal Convictions

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has revoked the license of an FM station. The revocation follows an Order by Administrative Law Judge Jane Hinckley Halprin (ALJ) terminating a hearing into the qualifications of the license failing to respond to discovery requests and failing to comply with other procedural obligations. The Enforcement Bureau found that the licensee lacks the qualifications to remain a Commission licensee. The record in the proceeding—particularly 2020 convictions for a felony and four misdemeanors, and the facts underlying those convictions—establishes that the licensee lacks the requisite character to be a Commission licensee.

In looking at the criminal activity, the FCC noted:

“...[C]onviction for criminal use of a communication facility, a third-degree felony, by itself merits revocation of his license. Any felony conviction casts doubt on an applicant’s or licensee’s character. The propensity to comply with the law generally is relevant to character qualifications, and an applicant or licensee’s willingness to violate other laws, and, in particular, to commit felonies, is indicative of whether the applicant or licensee will conform to the Commission’s rules or policies. This conviction, which concerned acts intended to harm—and causing actual harm to—an individual, disqualifies (the licensee) ... on the basis of character defect. [The] ... four misdemeanor convictions form an independent basis for revoking his license. The Commission has the discretion to consider serious misdemeanor convictions in appropriate cases, and this is such a case. [The licensee]... pleaded guilty to an array of misdemeanor criminal offenses (identity theft, unlawful dissemination of an intimate image, recklessly endangering another person, and tampering with evidence) based on misconduct involving multiple actions over a period of time designed to harm his victim. [The licensee]... then sought to evade responsibility for those actions. We find that these misdemeanor convictions directly implicate his character qualifications.”

While the facts of this case are egregious, it is worth noting that criminal convictions in a non-broadcast context may place your license at risk. Under the FCC’s Character Policy statement, such convictions may serve as evidence that the licensee will not follow FCC rules.

You can see the full decision here.



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