FCC looks into San Francisco noncom deal


The sale of KUSF-FM by the University of San Francisco to Classical Public Radio Networks LLC joined several others of its kind in generating controversy because it promises to take student-oriented programming off the station in place of a more mainstream non-commercial format (with classical and news-talk-NPR being considered among the mainstream formats). But the FCC has found other reasons to question the deal, related to a station operation agreement that is supposed to be in effect pending closing.

The local marketing agreement agreed to by the parties, in this special non-commercial instance, is being called a Public Service Operating Agreement, and it allows CPRN to begin programming the station in advance of closing.

There is also a financial element. Per the FCC, “CPRN will pay to the Licensee: (1) $5,000 per month for the first 120 days during which the PSOA is in effect; and (2) $7,000 per month for the remainder of the first year of the PSOA term. CPRN will retain all listener contributions, underwriting revenue, and other support for the Station during the PSOA term.”

FCC said, “The terms of the PSOA present issues involving the parties’ compliance with Commission rules and policies concerning the operation and control of the Station.”

The FCC has sent out a list of questions for both parties to answer, with replies expected within 30 days.

RBR-TVBR observation: The FCC has no authority to consider format when it decides whether or not to approve a deal. As for the parties’ version of an LMA, this would also be a no-brainer were we talking a commercial station. We see no good reason why CPRN shouldn’t be able to begin running what is the equivalent of a commercial sales operation under terms of a non-com version of a joint sales agreement.