FCC allows Austin move-in to proceed


FCCThe engineering complexities for broadcasters within spectrum-shot of an international border slowed down a proposed city of license change so long that the FCC’s approach to such changes itself underwent a significant change in the interim. The FCC has agreed to follow policy as it was when the proposal was initiated.

The proposal came from BMP Austin License Company, part of the ill-fated Border Media Partners radio group which is now under receivership and in large part sold to third parties.

The idea was to move 92.3 MHz KVLR-FM from Elgin TX as first radio service to Sunset Valley TX on the same frequency. To accommodate that move, 1260 KWNX-AM was to move from Taylor TX to Elgin as a back-fill station, so Elgin would not be left stationless. Also, a deal had been stuck with M&M Broadcasters under which M&M would move KBEY-FM Burnett TX from 92.3 MHz to 103.9 MHz; and two unclaimed allotments would also be modified.

The FCC had to clear some of the modifications with Mexico, delaying the process.

In the interim, the company went into receivership, and also, the FCC changed the way it processes move-ins, now operating with a presumption of dismissal when a station proposed to abandon a rural area in order to move into an urbanized area as is the case with the KVLR proposal, which would take it from unrated territory to the Austin market.

BMP pleaded the six-figure price tag attached to engineering, legal and negotiating expenses pursuing this complex plan; and also noted that at the time it was putting it together, there was no FCC policy protecting rural areas from loss of service; and further pointed out that it was not the fault of BMP that the process ran into the Mexican speed bump.

The FCC agreed, and also said that even though it was still within its rights to deny the move, that the community of Sunset Valley was sufficiently independent of Austin to warrant its own radio station. The move is approved.

RBR-TVBR observation: Kudos to the FCC. All too often in our dealings with the bureaucrats that exist in both the public and private sectors, we have encountered people with the power to say yea or nay, who are bound inextricably to rules and guidelines set down on some piece of paper somewhere.

Here the FCC has taken the rules and guidelines into account, but it has also taken into account the messy facts of the real world, where events follow their course regardless of what is written down.

We are heartened to see a federal agency make a ruling based on real life. Thank you, FCC, for behaving in this instance like a rational human being rather than a faceless bureaucracy!