Dealing in shifting market definition winds


When Joseph Walker agreed to buy KIJN AM-FM from Metropolitan Radio Group Inc., the stations were in an unrated portion of the Texas-New Mexico border not far from Clovis NM. Using the contour overlap market definition, the combo for a daisy chain superduopoly with Walker’s Tallgrass Broadcasting LLC stations: KMUL-AM/KICA-FM Farwell, KMUL-FM Muleshoe TX and KICA-AM/KKYC-FM Clovis NM, forming two markets.

Eventually, KIJN-AM was dropped from the deal, but in-market competitor Rooney Moon Broadcasting Inc., owner of an AM and three FMs in the market, filed a petition to deny.
Rooney Moon claimed that Walker used the wrong market definition – not only was he fully aware that Arbitron was getting ready to serve the market with radio radios, he had already promised to subscribe to the service.

Walker’s simple explanation carried the day, however. It was true that Arbitron had announced its intentions to serve the market, and that he himself had agreed to subscribe to that service.

But since the ratings for the market were not up and running, there was no BIA database on the market for Walker to use to justify the station cluster resulting from the deal for KIJN-FM. The FCC said that in this absence, Walker correctly used the contour method, and in no way did Walker exhibit a lack of candor. Rooney Moon’s petition to deny was denied and the cluster allowed to exist.