Debt settlement cancels station auction results


GavelStations in New York belonging to Pembrook Pines Mass Media were placed in receivership by court order, and even got to the point of being auctioned, when the PPMM principal managed to fix its debt problem. The stations were then transferred back to PPMM over the objections of an auction winner.

The stations are WABH-AM/WVIN-FM Bath NY, in an unrated portion of the state to the west of Elmira; and WQRW-FM Wellsville NY, in an unrated portion of the state even further west of Elmira.

A PPMM creditor was able to force the stations into receivership, with broker Richard A. Foreman handling receiver chores for Pembrook principal Robert J. Pfuntner. That took place in March 2012.

In August 2012, Foreman auctioned the stations – Pfuntner himself was the winning bidder for the Wellsville station, while Great Radio LLC won the right to acquire the Bath combo.

However, before the court approved the auction results, Pfuntner resolved his deficiency with the creditor, and Foreman transferred control of the stations back to him via an FCC Form 316.

Great Radio objected to this transfer on grounds that a Form 315 should have been used rather than the short form 316 because of the transfer of voting rights that went with transfer of control of the stations.

The FCC found no merit with the argument, stating that it has always allowed Form 316 to be used for transfers that were pursuant to court orders.

FCC explained it had long ago signed off on Pfuntner’s qualifications as a licensee based on other long form applications. It further noted that Foreman’s control of the stations was not for his own benefit, but rather as a fiduciary looking out for  the benefits of the parties involved in the court case.

The FCC concluded, “Because no equity is changing hands, the transfer of control does not involve a ‘substantial change’ in the ownership of Pembrook Pines, thus the transfer may be approved pursuant to the Application.”

So the upshot is that the Great Radio informal objection is denied and Pfuntner has his stations back.