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Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
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Internet: http://www.fcc.gov
TTY: 202/418-2555

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).

March 24, 2000


Re: Mass Media Bureau Approval of Radio License Transfer in Wichita, Kansas

The Mass Media Bureau has granted a license transfer of KOEZ(FM) from Kansas Radio Assets to Journal Broadcast Corporation. As a result of this transfer, Journal will own six stations in the Wichita market, including five FM stations.(1)

In the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Congress directed the Commission to apply increasing levels of permissible radio station ownership as markets increase in size. According to Arbitron, the Wichita radio market contains 24 stations, putting it in the category for mid-size radio markets with 15-29 stations. Applying the Arbitron definition, however, it appears that the current transaction could not be approved: in a 24-station market, an entity can only own four FM stations; Journal will own five.

This transaction could be approved only because the Commission's rules stretch the definition of a radio "market" beyond any realistic meaning. While the real world believes that the Wichita market contains 24 stations, at the FCC we apparently believe there are 52 stations competing in Wichita. Wichita is thus treated the same under our rules as the largest markets in the country - i.e., those with 45 stations or more. An entity can own as many stations in Wichita as it can in New York or Los Angeles. That is absurd.

How do we more than double the number of stations in the market? We count any stations as being in the market whose signal contour overlaps, in whole or in part, with the signal contour of any of the stations in question. Here, there are two Journal stations with large contours - KFDI(AM) (approximately 50-mile signal radius) and KYQQ(FM) (approximately 35-mile signal radius).(2) Thus, any signal that intersects with either of these contours - even at their outermost reaches - would be included as being in the Wichita "market" under our rules. For example, five Oklahoma stations are counted as being in the Wichita "market" (Wichita is about 50 miles from the Oklahoma border), even though none of these Oklahoma stations reaches more than a few miles into Kansas, and two of these stations do not reach into Kansas at all.(3) Similarly, to the north of Wichita, there are a half-dozen stations whose signal does not come within 40 miles of Wichita, and yet they are counted as being "in the market" because the edge of their signal contour overlaps slightly with the outermost reaches of KFDI(AM)'s signal.

The people of Wichita would be surprised to learn that these stations serve their "market," since very few Wichita residents can even receive the signals. Indeed, according to Arbitron, none of these stations has a reportable share of listeners in the Wichita market. If the point of the local ownership rules is to ensure that residents in a particular market actually have access to a specified number of separately-owned stations, our rules ought to be based on marketplace reality, not meaningless line-drawing that leads to absurd results.

- FCC -

1    Journal already owns KLLS(FM), KFDI(FM), KFDI(AM), KYQQ(FM), and KICT(FM).

2    See Attached Engineering Statement submitted by Journal.

3    Id.