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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).

February 28, 2000


Re: Applications for Radio License Transfers in Stamford-Norwalk, Connecticut

The Mass Media Bureau has granted license transfers for four stations that will result in a single entity controlling 88 percent of the revenue in the Stamford-Norwalk Arbitron market. I have serious doubts that this level of concentration of the public airwaves is in the public interest.

The Bureau's rationale for its action relies on the fact that this case involves the transfer of an existing station combination from one entity (AMFM) to another (Cox Radio, Inc.). In the Bureau's view, because such a transfer does not change the competitive landscape in Stamford-Norwalk, there is no basis on which the Commission could deny the license transfer.

The Bureau asks the wrong question. Under the Section 310(d) of the Communications Act, the issue is not whether a license transfer would change the competitive landscape, but whether a license transfer is in the public interest. While a public interest inquiry includes a competitive analysis, it also includes other vital considerations like the diversity of voices available to the listening public. Here, the Bureau has approved a license transfer that will give one entity control over four of the six stations in the Stamford-Norwalk Arbitron market (representing, as noted above, 88% of the revenues), including all four commercial stations licensed to the specific communities of Stamford and Norwalk.(1) While other stations' signals may reach those communities -- many from New York City -- there are no other stations obligated to serve the specific needs of Stamford and Norwalk residents. We license radio stations to specific communities, not to states or regions, because we believe that local stations will best meet local needs. Those needs are not well-served where the public airwaves are controlled by a single speaker.

Instead of simply granting the license transfer, I would have considered other options -- e.g., requiring the applicant to demonstrate that it attempted to find other buyers for some of the stations -- that would have protected the licensee's interests while enhancing the possibility of bringing diversity back to Stamford-Norwalk.

1    There is a single non-commercial station licensed to Stamford that Cox will not own.