One half of an LPFM time-sharing partnership in Columbus OH decided to sell its portion of the allotment, raising objections from the remaining partner, which claims it was not consulted. The FCC says that the sale may proceed.
The 102.1 MHz facility is WCRS-LP part of the time, licensed to Simply Living; and WCRX-LP the rest of the time, licensed to Bexley Public Radio Foundation. Simply Living has filed to sell its license to The Neighborhood Network.
Bexley says it was not given a chance to sign off on the deal; that it has no time-share arrangement going forward with TNN; and for good measure says that the deal in not in the public interest.
The FCC turned down Bexley’s petition to deny and an informal objection filed by one John Anderson alleging that TNN seemed to have exercised operational control over the station.
Simply put, the ultimate decisions governing the operation of an FCC-licensed broadcast station rest with the licensee and cannot be transferred. Among those are the decision to sell the license to a qualified entity, and the FCC said that TNN qualifies.
The licensee’s ultimate responsibility for the station cannot be signed away. As the FCC put it, nobody can “…“improperly delegate nondelegable licensee responsibilities . . . [or] improperly bind future exercise of the licensee’s nondelegable discretion.” So even if Bexley was given certain rights over the Simply Living license under terms of a contract, those terms would not be enforceable.
Bexley was worried that TNN would be entering into the timeshare “free of obligations,” therefore making the sale contrary to the public interest. The FCC said that Bexley need not worry; that TNN will be bound by terms of the timeshare.
Anderson’s objection tied to a change of operational control was unsupported by any evidence, and was brushed aside by the Commission.