Text | Word97

fcclogo NEWS

Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
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).

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


Re: Applications for Radio License Transfers from Southard Radio, Inc. to Golden Isles Broadcasting in Brunswick, Georgia

The Mass Media Bureau has granted license transfers that will permit two group owners to control 93.9% of the radio ad revenues in the Brunswick, Georgia 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 (Southard Radio) to another (Golden Isles Broadcasting). In the Bureau’s view, because such a transfer does not change the competitive landscape in Brunswick, there is no basis on which the Commission could deny the license transfer.

The Bureau asks the wrong question. Under 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 two group owners control over eight of the nine stations in the Brunswick Arbitron market (representing, as noted above, 93.9% of the revenues). Congress directed the FCC to license radio stations to specific communities, not to states or regions, because it believed local stations will best meet local needs. Those needs are not well-served where the public airwaves are controlled by two speakers.

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 another buyer for one of the stations -- that would have protected the licensee’s interests while enhancing the possibility of bringing diversity back to Brunswick.

# # #