In Re Application of KOPS-MONAHAN COMMUNICATIONS, INC., ASSIGNOR and SCOTT BROADCASTING CO. OF PENNSYLVANIA, INC., ASSIGNEE For Assignment of License of WTRY, Troy and WTRY-FM, Albany, N.Y.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
39 F.C.C.2d 470
DECEMBER 18, 1972
On December 13, 1972, the Commission approved the above assignment of license with Commissioner Johnson dissenting and issuing the following statement
[*470] On December 13, 1972, the Commission approved the assignment of license of WTRY-AM, Troy, WTRY-FM, Albany, N.Y., from Kops-Monahan Communications, Inc., to Scott Broadcasting Company of Pennsylvania, Inc.
DISSENTING OPINION OF COMMISSIONER NICHOLAS JOHNSON
Today the Federal Communications Commission approves the assignment of radio station WTRY-AM, Troy, New York, and WTRY-FM, Albany, New York, from Kops-Monahan Communications, Inc., to Scott Broadcasting Co. of Pennsylvania. This assignment raises three major problems -- problems to which the majority's opinion scarcely alludes.
First, with this assignment, Scott Broadcasting will acquire its seventh AM and its fourth FM station. All of these stations broadcast to listeners in the mid-Atlantic portion of this country. Section 73.35 (b) of our rules precludes one individual or institution from owning more than one AM broadcast station if the resulting multiple ownership violates the public interest in a diversity of broadcast views. Section 73.240(a)(2) applies the same prohibition to FM stations. It is true, of course, that our rules state that ownership of more than seven AM or FM stations constitute a per se violation of the public interest. But that per se rule clearly does not mean that ownership of more than one, but less than seven, such stations cannot constitute a violation of the public interest standard.
[*471] The majority does not even refer to these rules. It makes no inquiry into the question whether Scott Broadcasting's ownership of seven AM and four FM stations -- all in one clearly defined section of the country -- poses any problems of concentration of media control. Such an inquiry might well indicate the need for a hearing in order to determine the extent of the assignee's control. And it is well established that this Commission does not like evidentiary hearings. Here, as in the past, see my dissenting opinion in WDSU-TV, Inc., FCC 2d (1972), the majority's desire to avoid inquiry leads to the emasculation of our multiple ownership rules.
The second problem presented by this case is the fact that one of the assignee's current licensees is under attack by a petition to deny filed by a coalition of black community leaders in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. That petition challenges Scott Broadcasting's ascertainment of community needs with respect to WFEC-AM; the petition alleges further that the licensee has discriminated against minority groups in both its programming and its employment practices.
Despite these serious challenges to Scott Broadcasting's basic qualifications as a licensee, the majority, rather than deferring action in the instant case, virtually ignores the petition to deny and lets Scott Broadcasting acquire still other radio interests. It is as if the majority has finally admitted that it does not take seriously community group oppositions to license renewals. For, if this Commission's policy were otherwise, it would be patently absurd to permit this assignee to win more radio stations when, at some future date this Commission might well find the assignee unqualified to own those licenses it now holds.
Finally, the majority is not troubled by the fact that the assignee proposes to broadcast less than 5% of non-entertainment programming other than news and public affairs on both of its newly acquired stations. I have repeatedly expressed the view that a station which fails to broadcast less than 5% news, 1% public affairs, and 5% other non-entertainment programming cannot possibly be serving the public interest. See, e.g., my dissents in Pennsylvania-Delaware Renewals, 36 FCC 2d 515, 549 (1972); Washington Renewals, FCC 2d (1972). Other Commissioners, such as former Commissioner kenneth Cox, see our dissenting statement in Renewal of Standard Broadcast and Television Licenses: An Oklahoma Case Study, 14 FCC 2d 1 (1968), have been of this opinion as well, but the majority has never agreed. Nor does it agree today.