Friday, November 25, 2011
In a “Black Friday” stealth move, FCC Media Bureau denies two year old Media Council conglomeration complaint
by Larry Geller
On October 7, 2009, Media Council Hawaii filed its"Complaint and Request for Emergency Relief Regarding Shared Services Agreement Between Raycom Media and MCG Capital for Joint Operation of Television Stations KHNL, KFVE, and KGMB, Honolulu, Hawai'i". The complaint challenged the media consolidation involving the three stations. Today the FCC released its order denying the complaint except for one part involving lack of access to the stations’ public files. On that complaint, which I filed based on a visit of three of us to the three stations, the FCC ordered a $10,000 fine.
The main complaint was dismissed, and is likely to be appealed by the Media Council to the full FCC.
The FCC Media Bureau issued its order on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 but in a stealth move chose to delay release until "Black Friday," November 25, 2011. An OCR copy of the complaint is below.
An email from Media Council attorneys explained the decision:
In the order released today, the Media Bureau rejected Media Council Hawai'i's claims that Raycom had engaged in unauthorized transfer of control and violated the FCC's ownership limits when it took de facto control over a third television station in Honolulu. In essence, the Bureau concluded that HITV retained sufficient control under applicable FCC precedents such that no application to transfer was required. The Bureau agreed with Media Council Hawai`i that Raycom's control of the 2 network affiliates was at odds with the purpose and intent of the duopoly rule. But instead of enforcing the rule, the Bureau says it will include the issue of shared services in the 2010 quadrennial review, and that that it could consider the issue later when the stations come up for renewal. The order also admonishes fines the station $10,000, the base forfeiture amount, for public file violations.
Media Council Hawai'i is very disappointed with the Bureau's decision and will likely seek review by the full Commission.
A press reelease from Media Council Hawaii is expected shortly.