For Assignment of License of Station
KRTV, Great Falls,
File No. BALCT-369
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
16 F.C.C.2d 837 (1969)
February 28, 1969
[*837] The Commission, by Commissioners Hyde, Chairman; Bartley, Robert E. Lee, Cox, Wadsworth, Johnson, and H. Rex Lee, with Commissioner Cox issuing a statement and Commissioner Johnson dissenting and issuing a statement, granted the application for assignment of license of television station KRTV, Great Falls, Mont., from Snyder and Associates to Garryowen Cascade TV, Inc.
INDIVIDUAL STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER KENNETH A. COX
This is a difficult case for me. I share Commissioner Johnson's concern about concentration of control of the media nationally, regionally or within a State. However, I am also troubled by the problems of developing an economically viable free television service in sparsely populated areas. In such regions it has sometimes been necessary to permit an existing broadcaster to build or buy other stations in the area -- some of them often mere satellites of his original station, and then to supplement these facilities with translators to reach people who still do not get service. This is not an ideal solution, but it is better than having the people of the region depend on distant stations which reach them by way of CATV -- that is, those who could avail themselves of that service.
case it would perhaps be better if all the television stations in
As a consequence, there is already a grouping of stations in order to develop audience levels that can sustain operations on a satisfactory basis.
Broadcasting Corp., owns stations in
quite agree that this pattern is not one which, in general, I like to see. But I am persuaded, on balance, that this
transfer will serve the public interest by strengthening local free broadcast
service in the State of
today approves the acquisition of the television station in
are eight television stations in the relatively sparsely populated State of
n1 Since the preparation of this opinion Commissioner Cox has issued his own "individual statement." It is characteristically to-the-point, articulate, informed, candid, thorough, and rational. The reasons he advances for his vote I would, under some circumstances, find persuasive. I do not, however, share his judgment under the facts of this case. And I remain regretful that the majority could not have undertaken the task of presenting its position in such a manner.
three TV stations are among the most powerful in the State of
surrounding the concentration of control of the mass media in this country take
a variety of forms involving undue economic,
[*838] political and ideological
power. Local media monopolies raise one
set of concerns, national multimedia or conglomerate ownership another. None of these problems are, apparently,
before us here. The problem is not that
the licensee has total control over the local news reaching the residents of
The argument has been advanced that a single television station, serving the largest city in a State, may reach as much as half the population of that State. That is true. But it is also inevitable -- it is impossible to own less than a single station. It is not impossible to own less than three stations in a State.
Our rules provide an absolute maximum ownership limitation of five VHF television stations nationally. 17 C.F.R. Sec. 73.636(a) (2) (1968). But that rule also provides that we will evaluate "the facts of each case with particular reference" to "the size, extent and location of area served [and] the number of people served * * *." It is difficult to imagine a more compelling set of facts than those here before us.
It is one thing for this Commission to fail to order divestiture of television properties by an owner of three stations in small communities in separate States. It is quite another to make a formal, statutory finding that the public interest is served by a licensee's acquisition of his third property in a single State in which he reaches over half the population.