Friday, October 01, 2010

I REALLY, REALLY want that translator.....

The FCC has refused to forcibly "un-delete" FM translator W276BX-103.1 Pompton Lakes, New Jersey.

- On November 18, 2008, the New Jersey Public Broadcasting Authority, (NJPBA) licensee of W276BX, asked the FCC to cancel the translator's license.

- On January 16, 2009, the FCC's staff granted NJPBA's request and canceled W276BX.

- On February 17, 2009, WGHT-1500, a daytime-only commercial AM station in Pompton Lakes, filed a Petition for Reconsideration, asking the FCC to not cancel the W276BX license. They argued that cancellation is “contrary to the public interest, and harmful to the welfare and safety of the residents of Pompton Lakes."

The FCC ruled against WGHT's petition, saying:

“...the Commission has no authority to require any party [e.g., NJPBA] to assume a license and the corresponding duties and responsibilities that inhere in assuming the role of a licensee..."

To which WGHT filed another petition, arguing among other things: (quoting the FCC, not the station)

"(1) a party cannot elect to cease being a licensee to the detriment of the public or another licensee, citing Pappamal Wellington Kurian;

(2) it has standing to seek reconsideration as a “local listener, a local resident, a competitor, or the proposed originating station or assignee of W276BX,” because “WGHT(AM)’s authority to utilize an FM translator, and to provide service at night, will be eliminated if W276BX is not reinstated”;9 and

(3) the Commission should “exercise its public interest mandate and facilitate such a service whether it believes Mariana has standing . . . or not.”"

The Commission still isn't buying it. They've dismissed WGHT's second Petition as repetitive. W276BX remains dead, and WGHT remains daytime only...

Reading between the lines... what I think you can reasonably presume is... that WGHT hoped to purchase W276BX and use it to relay their AM station. The translator could operate at night, even if WGHT itself can't.

WGHT cannot license a new translator to relay their AM station -- only existing translators may be used to relay AM stations -- and in any case, it could be many years before another translator filing window is opened -- years before any applications for new translators will be accepted. By canceling the W276BX license, WGHT lost their easiest shot at an FM frequency.

(it would still be possible for them to acquire an existing translator elsewhere and move it to Pompton Lakes. But that would be a lengthy and expensive process.)

(I wonder, had WGHT already asked NJPBA if they were interested in selling the translator? Seems to me it would have been better for NJPBA's bottom line to sell the unused license to WGHT rather than surrendering it for cancellation. But it's possible they didn't know of WGHT's interest -- and once the license was surrendered, it was too late to get it back..)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The holder of the FM translator was caught by the FCC, pretending that they were actually transmitting on 103.1. After an FCC inspection, it was found that someone was in trouble at Public Radio for breaking the law, so they handed in the license rather than face fines and being outed by the FCC for pretending they were on the air! That is what happened to 103.1 in Pompton Lakes. WGHT was not offered a chance to buy it. The holder of 103.1 needed to give it back or face large fines for pretending they were operating on the frequency on a cable TV tower.