The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) is a national nonprofit organization “dedicated to promoting and preserving equal opportunity and civil rights in the mass media, telecommunications and broadband industries, and closing the digital divide.”
It’s also now the licensee of a pair of AM radio stations in Virginia’s Hampton Roads region.
On June 12, the MMTC finalized a donation of a Class C AM and its Class D simulcast partner serving the Norfolk, Va., market.
The party making the donation: Sima Birach’s Birach Broadcasting Co.
The asset purchase agreement was filed Friday with the FCC and appears today (7/2).
Being donated are WVAB-AM 1550 in Virginia Beach, the Class D facility from 1 tower that has 5kw during daylight hours but a paltry nine watts after dark, and Class C 1kw WBVA-AM 1450 in Bayside, Va.
Each station uses 1 tower to reach the market.
The donation of the stations to the MMTC saves them … and just might get the stations up to snuff again after a decade of problems for Birach.
On January 18, the FCC called for a Hearing Designation Order to determine whether the license renewals for WBVA and WVAB should be granted.
The twin AMs were acquired on April 1, 2008 by Birach from an estate in bankruptcy. WBVA was silent, and was supposed to return to broadcasting on Oct. 5, 2008. That didn’t happen, and for the next 151 unauthorized days WBVA remained dark.
On March 5, 2009, WBVA finally went on the air — only to go dark again 22 days later. This period of darkness lasted 357 days, with WBVA returning to the air March 19, 2010.
That return lasted 10 days, after which the station went dark for 358 days. A March 22, 2011 resumption of broadcasting for WBVA lasted 22 days. The station was dark yet again until April 5, 2012.
The pattern repeated until 2017, when on April 10 WBVA went dark after a 26-day restoration of its broadcasts.
The situation at WVAB isn’t much better, with a total 357 days on the air from April 1, 2008 through Nov. 30, 2017.
The donation letter filed with the Commission does not note the Hearing Designation Offer, but does note that “the FCC shall have consented to MMTC Broadcasting maintaining both stations in “silent” status for up to a period of 12 consecutive months.”
Birach will also make a personal donation of “additional broadcast equipment” at closing, and intends to seek a personal tax deduction for this act.
“MMTC Broadcasting” is officially the recipient of the stations, and is an LLC overseen by the nonprofit group.