Minot on FCC’s mind

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Just when you think the Federal Communications Commission has fixed its
"Minot problem," the small North Dakota town found a new way to make trouble for
supporters of deregulation.

Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein -- who put Minot in the national
limelight by repeatedly criticizing FCC radio rules that led to the town being
considered a market big enough to let one owner control the maximum eight radio
stations -- now complained that the new ownership rules create a similar
problem for TV ownership there.

Although the FCC fixed the radio-market-measurement problem for Minot and
some other small markets, Adelstein said, "An apparent blunder" allowed Minot and
other smaller markets to be considered big markets eligible for ownership of
broadcast/newspaper or radio/TV combinations.

Minot -- the 155th-largest DMA, with only four commercial TV stations -- is
considered larger than Detroit, which has twice as many commercial stations as
Minot.

The reason? Minot has six noncommercial stations that boost the total number
of TV stations in the market to 10. The prroblem is that there aren’t really six
noncommercial outlets in Minot, but two.

The others are used like satellites used to boost the stations’ signals into
surrounding rural communities. Only commercial stations have a official
designation as satellites, whereas noncommercial outlets used the same way are
counted as free-standing stations.

Similar problems occur in small markets in Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Michigan,
Nebraska, New York and Vermont, Adelstein said. "The FCC should immediately
reconsider and correct this mistake before any mergers are proposed to us," he
added.

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