Friday, January 06, 2012

FCC to no longer automatically approve city-of-license changes

KTIA-FM's application to move from Boone, Iowa to Johnson has been put on hold pending clarification from the applicant.

For the FCC to approve a city-of-license change, the applicant must show that the public interest is better served by the new location. This is usually shown by selecting a new city that doesn't already have stations. The FCC feels it's more important for each community to have at least one station, than for any given community to have more than one.

Where the new community is in a metropolitan area, the applicant must show that the new community is independent of the central city of the metropolitan area.

Boone is not in any metropolitan area. Johnson is 13 miles from Des Moines and is part of the Des Moines metropolitan area. KTIA argued that Johnson is independent of Des Moines -- but the FCC isn't buying it. Maybe the most telling statistic is one KTIA itself submitted - showing that 21.4% of Johnson residents work in Johnson. The FCC noted that, by inference, more than 78% work in other parts of the Des Moines metropolitan area... They also note that if KTIA's move is approved, it will cover 78% of the metropolitan area.

Basically, the FCC regards the proposal as a proposal to move KTIA to Des Moines, not to Johnson. Since Des Moines already has plenty of stations, the FCC does not regard the move as creating a preferential arrangement of allotments.

They have not yet rejected the proposal outright. They've given KTIA 30 days to come up with some other grounds on which the application might be granted.

Don't hold your breath.

It might be noted LPFM station KFMG-LP had also filed an objection against the proposed move. KFMG is on the adjacent channel (99.1 vs. 99.3) to KTIA, and would be forced off the air (or at least to a new channel) if the KTIA move were approved. The Commission said they will not rule on KFMG's objection at this time. (they may consider it if KTIA succeeds in showing the move would create a preferential arrangement)

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