The FCC issued a penalty of $1,000 this week to the Board of Trustees for Vermont State Colleges following public file violations at Castleton College’s student-run radio station WIUV-FM. According to a Consent Decree, the station revealed in its 2013 license renewal application that it failed to prepare quarterly issues and programs lists from 2006 to 2014, with record-keeping even more difficult after the station suffered flooding. The Consent Decree states:
…VSC [Vermont State Colleges] noted that on June 8, 2009, the Station’s main studio suffered a flood that destroyed all of its records, including the public file. Afterwards, in the Fall of 2009, the Station relocated its studio and, as a consequence of the move, the issues and programs lists for the second and third quarters of 2009 were lost. Thereafter, until January 2013, the Station was managed by a series of student volunteers with ‘no clear responsibility or routine…to prepare or review the issues/programs lists…'”
It’s unfortunate, but not uncommon, that college radio stations sometimes have lapses in record-keeping when it’s left to ever-changing student volunteers. Luckily WIUV recognized this and according to the Consent Decree,
In January 2013, Licensee implemented a new Station constitution that designated certain Station staffers with responsibility for maintaining and overseeing the Station’s public file. Subsequently, VSC has taken additional measures to ensure future compliance with the Commission’s rules and regulations including joining the Vermont Association of Broadcasters and requesting to participate in its Alternative Inspection Program.”
In addition to the $1000 penalty, WIUV has also agreed to a 3-year Compliance Plan to ensure that the station keeps proper logs of its public affairs programming in order to satisfy the FCC’s public file rules. As part of this plan, the station must appoint a Compliance Officer and also conduct trainings with station members to maintain compliance with FCC rules.
As a college radio station with a first-time violation, WIUV benefited from the FCC’s more lenient approach toward student-run stations. As we’ve seen ever since a 2013 order related to violations at William Penn University, student-run stations are typically being offered a chance to enter into a Consent Decree with lesser fines, rather than getting an automatic Notice of Apparent Liability with a potentially much higher fine.