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Federal Communications Commission
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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).

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28, 2000


PRESS STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER GLORIA TRISTANI

Re: Mass Media Bureau's granting of applications to transfer radio licenses from Pilot Communications to Citadel Communications Corp. in Augusta-Waterville, Maine.

This is another in a series of cases in which the Commission's illogical rules for applying the local radio ownership caps results in the granting of a transaction that should be prohibited under the statute.

There are three distinct "markets" implicated by this transaction. Under the Commission's rules for counting the number of radio stations in a market, there are 31 stations in Market 1, 46 stations in Market 2, and 60 stations in Market 3.(1) Of the 31 stations in Market 1, a party is permitted to own up to 7 commercial stations, no more than 4 of which are in the same service (AM or FM).(2) But Citadel will own 5 FM stations among the stations in Market 1, one FM station over the limit. Similarly, in Markets 2 and 3, which contain more than 45 stations, a party can own up to 8 commercial stations, no more than 5 of which are in the same service (AM or FM).(3) Citadel breaks those limits as well, owning 9 stations (including 7 FM stations) among the stations in Market 2, and 11 stations (including 9 FM stations) among the stations in Market 3.

The only way this transaction could be approved is through the regulatory sleight-of-hand to which I have objected repeatedly.(4) After expanding the "market" to include any station whose signal contour overlaps with any of the merging stations, we then shrink the "market" when counting how many stations an entity owns in the market to include only those stations that overlap with every merging station. Thus, we expand and contract the size of the "market" to suit our purposes.(5) Because this shell game is at odds with the statute, which, as it should, requires the Commission to examine the same market in counting both the denominator (i.e., the number of stations in the market) and the numerator (i.e., the number of stations in the market that an entity will own), my initial view is that I disagree with the Bureau's decision to grant the proposed license transfer.


1    See 47 CFR 73.3555(a)(4)(ii).

2    Telecommunications Act of 1996, Section 202(b)(1)(B).

3    Id. at Section 202(b)(1)(A).

4   See, e.g., Press Statement of Commissioner Gloria Tristani re: Mass Media Bureau's granting of applications to transfer radio licenses from Fuller-Jeffrey Broadcasting to Citadel Broadcasting in Portland, Maine (rel. Aug. 19, 1999); Dissenting Statement of Commissioners Susan Ness and Gloria Tristani, In re Applications of Pine Bluff Radio, Inc. and Seark Radio, Inc. File Nos. BAL-970103EA, BALH-970103EB, BALH-970103EC (rel. April 12, 1999); Joint Statement of Commissioners Susan Ness and Gloria Tristani, In re Station KBYB(FM), El Dorado, Arkansas, 13 FCC Rcd 15685 (1998).

5   Notably, the Commission's practice of shrinking the market when assessing the number of stations that will count against the local ownership caps has never been codified as a Commission rule.