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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rush to Judgement

Reading the FCC's latest appeal decision, in my head I heard that Sesame Street song that goes, "One of these things is not like the others...."

The decision deals with 91 requests for a waiver of the Form 471 filing deadline.  The first thing that struck me: all the applications deal with the current funding year, and were filed since October of this year.  A couple of them were filed less than 10 days ago!  The 57 appellants in Appendices A and B, which were granted waivers, are mighty happy about that, but the 33 appellants in Appendix D, who were denied, probably wish the FCC had taken more time to consider their pleas.

The FCC laid out 3 criteria for granting waivers:
  1. The Form 471 filed on time, and only the Item 21 attachments or certification were late.
  2. The Form 471 was filed close to the deadline, and an employee was really sick.
  3. The Form 471 was filed close to the deadline despite delays beyond the applicant's control. 
The poor folks in Appendix D didn't meet any of those, I guess.

Those of you who treat life as a series of word problems are probably now sitting with your hands raised, squirming with the effort of not blurting out the answer, "There is one applicant in Appendix C!"

Gold star for you.

Appendix C is the one thing that is not like the other.  It's an appeal filed six years ago for Funding Year 2004.  What is this hoary appeal doing in this decision?  It's not like it was a similar issue.

Without looking at the appeal, there is a point of interest.  Once again, the FCC has said, "You filed your appeal late, but because USAC erred, we're going to let it slide."  The FCC has in some cases been lenient about appeal deadlines in the case of clear USAC error.  I haven't figured out a pattern on when to expect leniency, though; some appeals of clear USAC error still get denied for not being timely filed.

I looked up the appeal, and I'm kind of surprised it was granted.  It looks like a USAC error, but the appeal was filed well after the funding denial reached the applicant, and the FCC has been pretty tight on appeal deadlines.

I have to agree with the FCC that " it is in the public interest to waive the deadline for its late-filed appeal."  I just wish the FCC's standards on accepting late-filed appeals seemed more consistent.

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