FCC allows station to edge toward Watertown SD despite objection


Three Eagles of Joliet decided to challenge the motives of KXLG-FM’s move from Huron SD to Milbank SD, and also whether it was being done by the licensee of for the benefit of a future operator. The FCC looked into it and said that everything was handled properly.

The current licensee of KXLG-FM is Dakota Communications Ltd. The station’s main contour does indeed put Watertown SD just about at the bulls eye of the circle, but it also easily blankets Milbank, which is northeast of Watertown. Huron, which is southwest of Watertown, is beyond the reach of the current signal. It fires up on 99.1 MHz, with 37 kW @ 548’.

The battle over moving the station kicked off in the summer of 2009.

Three Eagles objected first to the modification. It said the signal new signal doesn’t cover the entirety of Milbank, indicating Dakota’s aim at becoming in fact a Watertown service. It said that a former politician named Robert Faehn was quoted in local papers saying things like that, even though he had no ownership interest in the station.

Dakota fired back when its license was challenged by Three Eagles, saying the objector had “brazenly switched arguments” after remaining silent when the initial license modification had been filed.

Three Eagles noted that Faehn was listed as the station’s owner and manager on its website, that he had entered into an LMA with Dakota, operating as TMRG Broadcasting LLC. Dakota said the LMA was immaterial, since it applied for the CP, not TMRG.

Three Eagles also said it was clear that Milbank was being used as a “straw man” to serve Watertown, and that Faehn’s participation and statements were evidence.

The FCC sorted it out. It said that in the first place Three Eagles never alleged an unauthorized transfer of control in its objection to the CP mod, and brought up Faehn only to suggest that the modification was really aimed at Watertown. As a matter of policy, a newspaper article was called hearsay evidence.

Or as the FCC put it, “The Commission has consistently held that newspaper articles are the equivalent of hearsay and cannot act as a substitute for affidavits…”

The FCC said Faehn had nothing to do with the application to modify the station, and the TBA he signed a short time after the modification was filed didn’t matter. The modification was proper, and the TBA was also well within the norms of what the FCC allows. There was no evidence of misrepresentation or lack of candor at any point. Milbank is well covered by the station as modified, so there is no problem there. For all those reasons, the Three Eagles objections were denied.

RBR-TVBR observation: We have to admit we were a little surprised to see the name of an experienced broadcast group on the objecting side of this dispute. It isn’t exactly unusual for broadcast engineers to find way to move a broadcast tower in such a way that helps it find a bigger audience.

Occasionally a watchdog organization or an FCC commissioner will complain about how corporate profits are being put ahead of the needs of the citizens of the community being abandoned. But the rules are the rules, and the FCC will not allow a station to pick up and leave if the abandoned community is not otherwise provided for.

Usually, even if an established broadcaster sees the move for what it is – and everybody in the biz knows what a “move-in” is – in fact, we don’t need quotes — it’s a move-in. And most in the biz don’t protest too loudly because the day may come when they want to pull one off.