A glitch in a Federal Communications Commission database threatened to gum up FCC license renewals for broadcast stations. Under the commission’s “red-light” rule, stations with outstanding fines won’t get their license renewals approved until they make payment.
In the past few weeks, scores of stations have been told that the FCC’s computer files indicated they owe thousands of dollars in fines.
Trouble is, most of the fines had already been paid. The red-light rule was scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1, the same day the FCC was required to rule on renewals for TV stations in Virginia, Maryland, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Rather than bog down numerous renewals over disputed fines, the FCC acknowledged the snafu last week and ruled that the red-light rule won’t flash until Nov. 1, when staffers expect to have database errors cleaned up.