FCC waves though challenged NCE sale


The 20M sale of WKCP-FM Miami FL (formerly WMCU-FM) from Trinity International Foundation to American Public Media Group back in 2007 sparked a storm of protest from local listeners, and the listeners fired off formal and informal complaints to the FCC in an effort to prevent it. In the end, the effort fell flat.

The deal was filed with the FCC 10/1/07, and a petition to deny from several listeners flowed in almost directly on its heels, on 11/2/07. In support, over 100 other filed informal objections. A laundry list of allegations was swept aside. * The station failed to give adequate notice: It didn’t broadcast announcements, since it obtained authority to go silent for a period, but it did publish the announcement in a local paper. Petitioners challenged how local it was, but Trinity was able to prove that it was published in Miami. * Numerous allegations that Trinity failed to properly disclose ownership were dispensed with for technical or other reasons. * Objections to an expected format change are outside the FCC’s authority. * Contracts were filed without all documents provided: All that are must-haves were in fact provided; others with proprietary or essentially irrelevant information were properly withheld.

There was one area where the FCC seemed to concede there may be wrongdoing. That was the allegation that Trinity continued to solicit listener donations even though it knew it was in negotiation to sell the station to a company that may well scrap the programming the contributors were intending to support. However, FCC claimed that was outside its jurisdiction, and was rather a matter for the judiciary to settle.

RBR/TVBR observation: Interested in when "non-FCC misconduct" becomes a matter in which the FCC will in fact intercede? There are three types: fraudulent statements to a government agency (the FCC often seems to detest lack of candor above all other acts); felony convictions; or anti-competitive/antitrust matters involving mass media companies. If you have a criminal or civil complaint against a broadcaster involving any other type of matter, you might just as well start looking for a judge.