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Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
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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).

February 6, 2001
William J. Friedman
(202) 418-2300

Re: Mass Media Bureau's granting of applications to transfer radio licenses from Taylor Broadcasting to Clear Channel Broadcasting in Macon, Georgia.

This is yet another case 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.

Under the Commission’s current rules, there are several distinct radio “markets” implicated by this transaction.1 Radio Market 1 contains 26 stations; Radio Market 2 contains 32 stations. In those two markets, therefore, Clear Channel should be permitted to own no more than six stations and seven stations, respectively.2 But Clear Channel will actually own seven stations in Radio Market 1 and eight stations in Radio Market 2 – one over the limit in each market.

The only way this transaction could be approved is through the regulatory sleight-of-hand to which I have objected repeatedly. 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.3 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).

3. 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.