In re Applications of HOUSTON CONSOLIDATED TELEVISION CO., HOUSTON, TEX. (ASSIGNOR) AND CAPITAL CITIES BROADCASTING CORP., PROVIDENCE, R.I. (ASSIGNEE); CAPITAL CITIES BROADCASTING CORP., PROVIDENCE, R.I. (ASSIGNOR) AND PROVIDENCE TELEVISION, INC., PROVIDENCE, R.I. (ASSIGNEE) For Assignment of Licenses
Files Nos. BALCT-321, BALTP-207, BALTS-214, BALQ-37; Files Nos. BALCT-322,
BALRE-1531, BALTP-206, BALQ-36
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
8 F.C.C.2d 548 (1967); 10 Rad. Reg. 2d (P & F) 205
June 14, 1967 Adopted
The Commission, by Commissioners Hyde, Bartley, Lee, Cox, Loevenger, and Johnson, with Commissioner Bartley dissenting, Commissioner Johnson dissenting and issuing a statement, and Commissioner Wadsworth absent.
[*548] Granted assignment of the license of VHF television station KTRK-TV (channel 13), Houston, Tex., and auxiliaries KC-5514, KD-6245, KH-8670, KKV-39, and KST-34 from Houston Consolidated Television Co. to Capital Cities Broadcasting Corp.
Also granted was the application for assignment of the license of VHF television station WPRO-TV (channel 12), Providence, R.I., from Capital Cities Broadcasting Corp. to Providence Television, Inc.
DISSENTING STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER NICHOLAS JOHNSON REGARDING THE TRANSFER OF TELEVISION STATION KTRK-TV (HOUSTON, TEX.) FROM HOUSTON CONSOLIDATED TELEVISION CO. TO CAPITAL CITIES BROADCASTING CORP.; AND THE TRANSFER OF WPRO-TV (PROVIDENCE, R.I.) FROM CAPITAL CITIES BROADCASTING CORP. TO PROVIDENCE TELEVISION, INC. (A SUBSIDIARY OF POOLE BROADCASTING CO.)
This case constitutes Commission approval of a multiple station owner's acquisition of a fourth station in one of the top 50 markets -- albeit an exchange of one such station for another.
The Commission's action is, thus, in apparent conflict with its proposed Top Fifty Markets Policy, 30 F.R. 8166, 5 P&F Radio Reg. 2d 571 (1965). That policy would prohibit a single owner controlling more than a total of two VHF and one UHF television stations in the 50 most populous television markets. The proposed policy is, in that respect, a refinement of this Commission's multiple ownership rules, which limit the number of stations anyone can own to a total of seven AM and seven FM radio, and five VHF and two UHF television [*549] stations. 47 C.F.R., section 73.35; 47 C.F.R., section 73.240; 47 C.F.R., section 73.636 (1967).
For reasons stated in my dissenting opinion in Harvey Radio Laboratories, Inc. (WXHR, Boston), 6 F.C.C. 2d 898, 903 (1966), I do not believe the Commission should take case-by-case actions inconsistent with its proposed Top Fifty Markets Policy until it has finally passed upon that policy. Consistent with my reasons and vote in WXHR I dissent here.
I believe that questions of the ownership and responsible operation of the major outlets of information and opinion in a free society are among the most important confronting the country, the Congress, and this Commission. See generally, e.g., ABC-ITT Merger, 7 F.C.C. 2d 245, 278 (1967), Paris-Bourbon County Broadcasting, Inc., 6 F.C.C. 2d 894, 9 P&F Radio Reg. 2d 122 (1967). There are numerous illogical and inconsistent features of our current media ownership laws and policy. For example, although a single owner may not control two AM radio stations (or two television stations) with overlapping signals (47 C.F.R. section 73.35; 47 C.F.R. section 73.636 (1967)), there is nothing to prevent the common ownership, in a single market, of an AM and an FM radio station, or an AM and FM radio station and a UHF or VHF television station. Concentrated regional ownership, newspaper ownership of broadcast properties, or local newspaper-AM-FM monopolies may be given great weight in comparative hearings and virtually ignored in considering unopposed applications or license renewal proceedings. See Farrangut Television Corp., F.C.C. 2d, (1967) (dissenting statement) (FCC 67-611, May 22, 1967). Indeed the Top Fifty Markets proposal grew out of the Commission's awareness that it was illogical to equate the issues involved in ownership of television stations in the most profitable and populous markets with the issues involved in joint ownership of five geographically diffuse VHF televisions stations in the 100 smallest markets.
Not only are the present Commission policies toward ownership of broadcast properties inconsistent and illogical, there are other relevant factors that should be considered. Just by way of a few examples, what is the effect of our present ownership rules on the potential for establishing a fourth network? Are multiple owners better able to compete as affiliates with networks? What is the effect of multiple ownership on the broadcast product of a licensee? What is the effect of our ownership rules on entry into UHF? What "local service" is needed, and is being provided, in fact, by local stations today? What is the impact of the type of ownership (conglomerate, other media interests, total area served, media monopolies) on the service and program product provided? How much diversity do we want at what cost in terms of effective organization, or unrenumerative programming, and what has been our experience in terms of the ability and actual performance of multiple owners?
I believe these and comparable issues are interrelated and ought to be viewed and evaluated as such. I would like to see this Commission undertake such evaluation. Meanwhile, it does not ease the ultimate resolution of such issues, in my judgment, to take actions contrary to an interim policy concerning control in media while evaluating its wisdom.