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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).
|May 29, 1998|
Joint Press Statement of Commissioner Susan Ness and Commissioner Gloria Tristani Regarding the Mass Media Bureau's Approval of Assignment and Transfer in Redding, CA
The application approved today by the Mass Media Bureau raises the question of whether it is in the public interest to grant the assignment and transfer of four additional radio stations in the Redding, California area to Regent Communications. The assignment, in our view, should not have been approved without a more rigorous examination of the facts. Unfortunately, neither the Bureau nor the Commission has made such a review. The Bureau's action, therefore, should not be viewed as having any precedential weight.
The Commission has an independent statutory obligation under Section 310(d) to determine that each and every broadcasting license assignment or transfer is in the public interest. This duty is complementary to, and not subrogated to, the antitrust responsibilities of the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission.
Traditionally, the Commission's public interest analysis has consisted of reviewing the effect of a transaction on competition and diversity of voices in the relevant geographic market.
Here, we believe the initial information available necessitated further inquiry before a final decision. Redding is ranked by Arbitron as Metro market #210 with 13 "home market" stations and a total of 21 stations with reportable audience shares. The Bureau's approval of this transaction means that one entity will own almost half of the stations in the home market. According to publicly available data, these 6 stations together garner over 64% of the total radio revenue in the home market. Only 3 other stations -- all owned by one party -- have reportable revenue shares in the home market. Together the two owners control a whopping 99.6% of the market's radio revenue. Given these initial facts, we believe the Bureau or Commission should have examined other facts that would have shed light on whether the assignment serves the public interest.
We express no opinion about whether or not this transaction should be approved. There may well be factors weighing in favor of the assignment. However, the Commission, regrettably, has not fulfilled its statutory responsibility to make the appropriate inquiry and determination.
Commissioner Ness added, "For the four years that I have been at the Commission I have strongly espoused three principles to broadcasters and their attorneys involved with transactions: (1) I take seriously our statutory obligation to find that each assignment and transfer is in the public interest; (2) the Commission should provide clear guidance on which factors are relevant to our exercise of this statutory requirement; and (3) I am committed to meeting reasonable business deadlines. I recognize from my years of experience financing broadcast transactions that even a negative judgment is better than no decision at all. The Commission owes it to the public to decide such cases expeditiously, and through the adjudicatory process, make the public interest determination required by law."
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