The FCC has approved the sale of three Hoak Media stations in Colorado to Nexstar. They are KREX-TV Grand Junction and two satellite stations, KREY-TV Montrose and KREG-TV Glenwood.
Gray Television bought the Hoak stations, but spun off the Colorado outlets to Nexstar.
All three stations are in the Grand Junction (Colo.) DMA, but since satellites only rebroadcast the signal of the originating station on another channel to hard to reach areas, they are exempt from the duopoly rules. The FCC agreed to extend that waiver, even though it found Nexstar had not met the presumptive standard.
Nexstar had sought an extension of that waiver as part of the sale since the FCC requires transfer applicants to demonstrate compliance with the presumptive waiver standard, which includes no overlap of signal between the parent station and satellite and no operator ready to purchase and operate the satellite as a full-service station. But the commission will also consider extending the waiver on an ad hoc basis even if the presumptive standard is not met, which it did in this case.
"Based on our review of the materials submitted, we find that the applicants have not met our 'presumptive' satellite standard," said the FCC's Media Bureau. "Nonetheless, we find that Nexstar has provided sufficient information to authorize the continued satellite operation of KREY-TV and KREG-TV under our ad hoc analysis."
The bureau did not explain just why it did not meet the presumptive standard. The satellite signals apparently do overlap, which would seem to violate the presumption, but the commission said it recognized that was a result of the DTV switch in 2009. "We recognize that, following the digital transition, full-power television stations have a digital Principal Community contour that serves a much larger area than their former analog City Grade contour. Thus, as we [have] stated previously, the Principal Community contour is not an equivalent standard to use in determining whether a proposed satellite qualifies for the presumptive satellite exemption to the duopoly rule."
The FCC said it was extending the waiver "given the stations’ long history as satellites, the fact that all of the major networks are broadcast in the DMA, and the limited coverage provided by the satellites." The bureau said it was "unlikely that an alternative operator would be willing and able to operate the stations as stand-alone facilities. Accordingly, we find that a grant of a continuing 'satellite exemption' to our local multiple ownership rules for KREY-TV and KREG-TV to operate as satellites of KREX-TV would be in the public interest."