In Re Agreement between COMBINED COMMUNICATIONS CORP. and DENVER TASK FORCE FOR COMMUNITY BROADCASTING Concerning Reimbursement of Expenses for Task Force Advisory Service
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
33 F.C.C.2d 625
RELEASE-NUMBER: FCC 72-89
FEBRUARY 9, 1972
[*625] DEAR SIR: This refers to the application for transfer of control of the licensee of Stations KBTV, Denver, Colorado and KARK-TV, Little Rock, Arkansas (BTC-6629). The Commission granted that application as being in the public interest. However, it deferred action on a portion of the agreement between the transferee and the Denver Task Force for Community Broadcasting as more fully explained below.
The application contains an agreement between the transferee, Combined Communications Corporation (CCC), and the Denver Task Force for Community Broadcasting. The agreement concerns children's programming, programming for minority needs and interests, employment and advancement of minority group persons, and also for further cooperation by the transferee with the Task Force. The agreement also provides, "CCC will assist the Task Force by reimbursing part of its expenses legitimately and prudently expended in the implementation and performance of the Task Force's advisory services to be rendered pursuant to this agreement... In any calendar year the total reimbursement of Task Force expenses by CCC shall not in any event exceed $5,000.00."
The Commission recognizes that the entire question of payments in situations similar to the above is troublesome. Accordingly, a rulemaking proceeding is being instituted to determine whether the Commission should allow such expenses and, if so, whether there should be any limitations on such allowances. This rulemaking proceeding will be initiated immediately and expedited to the extent necessary to obtain completion within a six month period thereafter.
In view of the above, the Commission has deferred action on the reimbursement provisions of the above described agreement pending action on the proposed rulemaking.
Chairman Burch concurring and issuing a statement; Commissioners Bartley and H. Rex Lee absent; Commissioner Johnson concurring in part and dissenting in part and issuing a statement.
BY DIRECTION OF THE COMMISSION, BEN F. WAPLE, Secretary.
CONCURBY: BURCH; JOHNSON (IN PART)
[*626] CONCURRING STATEMENT OF CHAIRMAN DEAN BURCH
Although I have abstained from voting on the application for transfer of control, I concur in the deferred action on the reimbursement provisions because I recognize that there are significant issues which should be explored in an overall proceeding. I have reached no decision, tentative or otherwise, on these issues. But I do strongly believe that the parties are entitled to a definitive answer within a short period of time. I see no reason why a proceeding of this nature cannot be concluded within the six month period specified. But if it is not, I serve notice that I would be disposed to permit payments to commence six months from now, and to continue unless and until the matter is resolved unfavorably to such continuation.
DISSENTBY: JOHNSON (IN PART)
OPINION OF COMMISSIONER NICHOLAS JOHNSON CONCURRING IN PART AND DISSENTING IN PART
I concur in the Commission's decision granting the application for transfer of control of KBTV, Denver, Colorado and KARK-TV, Little Rock, Arkansas.
For the reasons stated in Chairman Burch's concurrence, however, I dissent to the Commission's action in deferring, until the completion of an as of yet uninitiated Notice of Inquiry, the decision on approving the reimbursement provisions of the consulting agreement between Combined Communications Corporation and the Denver Task Force for Community Broadcasting.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Task Force, a group of Denver citizens interested in improving broadcasting, will act as consultants to the licensee, in return for which the licensee will reimburse them for their expenses (not to exceed $5,000 per year).
The Commission faced this same issue in August of last year in Strauss Broadcasting Co., 31 F.C.C. 2d 550 (Aug. 26, 1971). At that time, over my dissent, the Commission held that there had been no showing that these payments were in the public interest and disallowed the contract, but promised an inquiry into the question, with the provision that the group there involved be permitted to petition the Commission for approval should we later conclude that such payments were permissible.
Five months have passed. The issue is just as pressing and just as important now as it was then. Yet we have not even seen the beginnings of the promised inquiry. Today we disallow -- under the guise of deferring -- yet another such agreement. I felt in August that these contracts were in the public interest, and I continue to feel that they are today. I am not encouraged by more promises of future inquiries. I agree with Chairman Burch that if we have not completed our inquiry within six months, this agreement should be approved. However, I would approve it today.