FCC Grants License Renewal, Transfer Of Troubled Florida AM
May 15, 2014 at 12:47 PM (PT)
The FCC has conditionally granted the renewal of the license of WINGS COMMUNICATIONS, INC. Talk WELE-A/ORMOND BEACH-DAYTONA BEACH, FL and the donation of the station to BETHUNE-COOKMAN COLLEGE, over the objections of PAUL TANNER, BARBARA AND MURRAY STEINBERG, and THOMAS L. VETTER.
The station's former owner, DOUG WILLHITE, was convicted of felony child abuse and neglect in a widely publicized case the station went into bankruptcy in 2011 and emerged from bankruptcy in 2012, but the licensee also faced consumer fraud charges for alleged fraudulent travel package sales and was hit with a civil penalty in 2010. The objections were based on the travel package fraud, but the Commission ruled that the objectors had failed to provide the supporting facts necessary to make a prima facie case for fraudulent advertising. And while WILLHITE's felonies would normally make renewals subject to a hearing to determine his qualification to hold a license, the donation to the college and WILLHITE's withdrawal from ownership with no compensation led the Commission to grant the renewals with the condition that WILLHITE not benefit from the transfer.
Noncomm's 'Underwriting Test' Nixed
The Commission also denied MARICOPA COUNTY COMMUNITY COLLEGE DISTRICT's request for experimental authority to test a "loosening of the Commission’s enhanced underwriting policies" on noncommercial KJZZ and KBAQ/PHOENIX. The licensee wanted to try "enhanced" underwriting announcekents including "factually accurate information concerning interest rates," sales or special events, and using qualitative adjectives. The Commission said that the plan did not meet the basic qualifications of an experimental authorization, since it is not a technical test.