No holiday from competition found in Dothan market


Thumbs Up and Thumbs DownClay and Robert Holladay are brothers, and both have interests in the Dothan AL market via ownership or LMA. The FCC has approved transactions over a petition to deny, affirming that is indeed possible for family members to effectively compete with one another.

To make a long story short, Clay Holladay’s Gulf South Communications was offered the chance to buy a pair of stations from Magic Broadcasting. In order to accommodate the two states, GSC sold two of its existing stations to Georgia Edmiston, a business associate of Clay Holladay’s, and she bought two more from Magic. Alisha Cummings, the daughter of two of Clay Holladay’s employees bought a station from Magic. Magic sold five stations in total.

After that, SAB and its four stations entered into an LMA with Alabama Media LLC, controlled by Robert Holladay, and also struck a deal to sell the quartet to AM.

Leigh Thomas objected. She stated her belief that the whole sequence was merely a cover to allow members of the Holladay family to “park” stations under their control that they could not own legally. She also said that SAB must have known it would strike the LMA deal with Robert Holladay, and failure to mention it in its applications to buy stations from Magic and GSC constitute a lack of candor.

Clay and Robert offered a joint defense in opposition to Thomas’ petition to deny. In fact, they made a very convincing case that Robert Holladay came into Dothan and competed vigorously with his brother.

For example, he increased staffing at the stations from five to 20, took local programming from five hours weekly to 200 hours, and most tellingly of all, converted one of the stations to a Country format, taking it into direct format competition with two of Clay’s stations.

The FCC said that anybody objecting to an FCC-approved transaction on the basis of familial ties faced a heavy burden of proof, and said that Thomas did not provide any basis to suggest that the stations were being controlled by one entity and were not in competition.

As far as the LMA is concerned, there was no need to report it in the earlier transactional documents. And as structured it did not in any way violate FCC rules.

The petition was denied and the sale from SAB to AM is approved.

RBR-TVBR observation: This author has three brothers and two sisters, and as anybody who is a member of a large family can attest, a certain amount of strife occurred from time to time. But none of us ever took a sibling rivalry to the extreme of operating competing businesses.