FCC Rejects Challenge To Ithaca Deal
December 16, 2008 at 10:22 AM (PT)
The FCC has rejected a challenge to the sale of four stations in ITHACA, NY by EAGLE BROADCASTING to SAGA.
FINGER LAKES ALLIANCE FOR INDEPENDENT MEDIA challenged the sale of Talk WHCU-A, AC WYXL (LITE ROCK 97.3), Talk WNYY-A, and Country WQNY (QCOUNTRY 103.7) on the basis that the use of ARBITRON market definitions to define the relevant market for competition and ownership cap purposes is a "rebuttable presumption." The group argued that the market should be defined as including stations that are "listenable" in the market and excluding stations that "do not have an actual presence in a market" or do not "receive a minimal share of local advertising revenue." It also sought to include whether stations provide local news coverage in the definition of whether a station should be included in the market.
Commissioners MICHAEL COPPS and JONATHAN ADELSTEIN, while "reluctantly" concurring with the decision to reject the challenge, suggest that the Commission gave "short shrift" to the challengers' allegations and should have held to its "hard look" standards to review the petition. COPPS and ADELSTEIN said that "with respect to the allegation that a single entity will control 64 percent of advertising revenues in the ITHACA market, the majority simply asserts that the petitioners failed to justify a departure from our general rule and —- most troubling —- relies on the FCC’s discredited media ownership decision that was overturned and remanded by the courts for the proposition that advertising revenues are of “decreasing relevance” as a barometer of competition. In the end, we are left with a record that makes it difficult to assess the true impact of this transaction on competition, localism, and diversity in the ITHACA market."