A local public radio station has been hit with a $10,000 fine by the FCC after gaps were found in its record-keeping.
WBNI, 94.1 FM, the classical music arm of Northeast Indiana Public Radio, was missing quarterly reports logging public-affairs and public-issue broadcasts, said Will Murphy, NIPR president and general manager.
The missing information was discovered during the review of station documents for both WBNI and WBOI, the other NPR affiliate.
Every eight years, radio stations must renew their broadcast licenses with the Federal Communications Commission, Murphy said. Station officials review their public documents showing the instances of public affairs broadcasts. While the records had been maintained adequately for WBOI, there were large gaps in WBNI’s documentation.
After some research, all the records needed were found except for 2011, 2010 and one quarter in 2009, Murphy said.
When Murphy submitted the reports to federal officials for the renewal of the station’s license, he told them that the public documentation information was incomplete.
That resulted in the $10,000 fine, he said.
But Murphy said telling federal officials upfront about the missing data was preferable to saying the information was complete and having FCC officials check and find the lapse, which could have exposed the radio station to a larger fine.
Murphy said WBNI has until Oct. 4 to pay the fine, but he is consulting with the board of directors as well as legal counsel about the possibility of seeking a reduction.
The station’s licensing was never in jeopardy because the FCC found no pattern of abuse or intentional attempt to delete or conceal the files, Murphy said.