Court Reverses FCC Denial of Station License Reallocation to New Jersey, Delaware
Says move squares with the intent of law that each state have at least one VHF station if possible
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 12/14/2012 11:36:37 AM
The FCC in September 2011 upheld a 2009 Media Bureau decision denying the move of TV station channel licenses from Wyoming and Nevada to New Jersey and Delaware, which at the time of the initial request had no VHF stations. When PMCM TV, owner of KJWY-TV Jackson (Wyo.), and KVNV-TV Ely (Nev.), filed for the move, New Jersey and Delaware were the only states without a VHF station. That was after WOR-TV Secaucus went digital and moved to a UHF channel.
The stations asked to be "reallocated" across the country, but the FCC concluded that "reallocation" meant moving stations from one community to another because they were interfering with a nearby station on the same channel.
The court disagreed, and on Friday threw out that decision and told the FCC to approve the move.
"The Commission denied the application, interpreting section 331(a) to require reallocations of channels only between neighboring locations," said the court. "Because the Commission's decision conflicts with the statute's text and purpose and because appellant can move its channels without creating signal interference, we reverse....given the Commission's concession that PMCM's proposal is technically feasible, we reverse and remand to the Commission with instructions to approve the reallocations."
An FCC spokesman was unavailable for comment.
Although the FCC's condensed language adopted in Section 331 may appear to allow such a drastic geopgraphic change, the language in the House of Representatives HR695 "Local Television Act of 1988," clearly states in Section 331 (c) as amended "The Commission shall, within 60 days.....will ensure the provision of primary program service from one or more NEARBY (capitalization added) VHF commercial television broadcast stations to each PMSA of more than one million persons...." Even though the final language was refined to specify lack of coverage for a State rather than a principal metropolitan statistical area, it was clear there was never an intention to allow drastic geographic moves, but rather that stattions who were NEARBY to allow be permitted to chnage their communities of license and technical facilities, if necessary, to accommodate this specific need. The Court of Appeals erred by not taking the intent of Congress into account in rendering their decision.
Craig Fox - 12/18/2012 10:38:24 AM EST
Mixing 'apples and oranges'...were this a radio move the FCC would have said "NO" on account of it's recent rural policy. Technical feasibility notwithstanding, the commission no longer wants to add service to an urban area in the name of 'first local service'. This case is different, in that the court is directing the FCC to do something it's policy wouldn't have allowed.
David Stewart - 12/17/2012 3:21:29 PM EST
The FCC does not equate tower sites with community of license. If you mean this is a "move-in" on steroids, well you may be right!
Rebecca Rini - 12/17/2012 1:29:26 PM EST
Interesting to note, though...
The Nevada station shows a proposed tower location at Times Square in New York City, and the Wyoming station will broadcast from a tower in Philadelphia, according to the FCC files on the www.fcc.gov website.
Neither city is in New Jersey or Delaware.
Ken W. English - 12/17/2012 8:16:02 AM EST
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