RBR + TVBR has confirmed that Entercom Communications has voluntarily surrendered the license of CHR/Pop Class B KDND-FM 107.9 “The End” in Sacramento — a move designed to expedite its estimated $1.49 billion tax-free merger with CBS Radio, announced Feb. 2.
The divestment, first reported by Streamline Publishing co-owned publication Radio INK, is being made “to facilitate the timely FCC approvals for the planned combination with CBS Radio.”
Entercom’s Sacramento cluster is comprised of one AM — KIFM-AM “ESPN 1320,” and five FMs: KKDO-FM 94.7, KSEG-FM 96.9, KUDL-FM 106.5, KRXQ-FM 98.5, and KDND-FM 107.9 “The End.” CBS Radio owns one AM — KHTK-AM 1140 — and four FMs: KNCI-FM 105.1, KSFM-FM 102.5, KYMX-FM 96.1, and KZZO-FM 100.5.
Thus, this market would have seen the sale of four FMs, prior to today’s announcement. One broker RBR + TVBR spoke with on Thursday suggested that KDND may be among the stations divested by Entercom.
As has been reported for several months, KDND is presently the subject of an FCC license review hearing tied to the death of a contestant in the infamous “Hold Your Wee For A Wii” promotion conducted a decade ago by the Top 40 station.
While Entercom declined to comment on the surrender of KDND’s license, it is clear that today’s action will conclude the hearing in Washington, D.C. in front of an Administrative Law Judge.
This move would remove Entercom’s ownership of the station altogether, and rather than a spin or a swap would be reclaimed by the FCC for another company to receive via an auction — minus Entercom’s involvement in any license transfer.
Francisco Montero, a Managing Member with Inside-the-Beltway Communications Law practice Fletcher Heald & Hildreth, believes a cost-benefit analysis of the entire Entercom-CBS Radio merger led company executives to surrender KDND’s license — rather than get entangled in a potentially time-consuming and ugly spin or swap.
“If there are stations that they have to spin off anyway, or stations that could be problematic to holding up this transaction, I could see this,” Montero says. “I have seen stations donated, and the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) has been the beneficiary of donated stations because it easier to get them off the books.”
Had KDND been a station included in the needed divestitures in Sacramento, unnecessary negative attention to the inclusion of that station in a multi-billion dollar deal would have the potential to “suck the air out of the room,” Montero says. “It’s such a small part of a much larger transaction. It’s just not worth the cost of any delay in getting the transaction done.”
Montero concurs that such actions from one of the biggest commercial broadcasters in the U.S. is rare — although the practice of surrendering a license is not.
Entercom’s voluntary surrender of KDND’s license is also a vastly different scenario from the FCC’s early 1981 decision to terminate the license of then-Charter Broadcasting-owned WMJX-FM 96.3 “96X” in Miami, for violations regarding news and promotional announcement tied to a previous owner.
“I can’t think of any on the top of my head of similar situations, but there are always donated licenses and situations where a university-owned noncomm or a small AM have surrendered their license,” he says. “This isn’t an anomaly.”
With the merger of Entercom and CBS Radio, the Sacramento cluster will contain Rhythmic-leaning CHR KSFM-FM 102.5, Hot ACs KZZO-FM 100.5 and KUDL-FM “Star 106.5,” prior to the divestment of what will now be three stations.
Thus, the new Entercom has consolidated The End’s programming on one of these three stations.
At 9 a.m. Pacific on Monday, “106.5 The End” became a reality — extending a stronger brand on a different station, as the KDND morning show shifted to KUDL as its now-former morning host will shift to the 6 p.m.-11 p.m. time period. The KDND signal is presently airing first few minutes of Top 40 music, which is interrupted with static followed by a recorded message telling listeners to change their presets to 106.5 FM. KDND will cease transmissions just past 11:59 p.m. Pacific on Tuesday evening.
Even though KDND is preparing for “The End,” this may not satisfy MAC’s Wilson.
The End has a new beginning.
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