How will Journal comply with FCC ownership rules?Don Day | July 8, 2008
UPDATE: More on this story here.
The question on many of the media-involved folks around town lately is this:
How is Journal going to get FCC approval to buy KNIN?
JBG currently owns the highest concentration of media assets in the market (although not by revenue or audience measurements – only based on sheer number of signals). It owns KJOT/J-105, KQXR/100.3 The X, KTHI/107.1 K-Hits, KRVB/94.9 The River, KGEM/1140 AM and KCID/1490 AM on the radio dial, as well as KIVI/Today’s Channel 6 on TV. The company also owns KSAW in Twin Falls – although the TF market is separate.
Adding KNIN/Channel 9 would increase that concentration even more. In fact, it would be in violation of the Federal Communications Commission’s “Eight Voices” rule. This applies to TV broadcasters, both commercial and non-commercial – but only includes full power signals.
The current voices are:
KBCI-2/Fisher Communications, KAID-4/Idaho State Board of Education, KIVI-6/Journal Broadcast Group, KTVB-7/Belo Corp., KNIN-9/Banks Broadcasting, KTRV-12/Block Communications.
Currently the market has six voices. The FCC says a market must have eight remaining after a merger. So how’s this plane going to fly? Journal is likely seeking a waiver under the “failing station” clause of the FCC’s current rules. JBG would have to prove several things for KNIN:
- It has an audience share of 4% or lower
- The station has had negative cash flow for the past three years
- The merger will produce “public interest benefits… where the applicant demonstrates that the tangible and verifiable public interest benefits of the merger outweigh any harm to competition and diversity”
- That JBG is “the only reasonably available candidate willing and able to acquire and operate the station; selling the station to an out-of-market buyer would result in an artificially depressed price”
So JBG’s buying a failing station? $8 million for a station that doesn’t make money??
Synergy. And for the employees of KNIN, the synergy won’t likely seem like a good thing. The station will probably unload most of its staff and combine job functions with KIVI.
Journal just did this exact same thing with CW station KWBA in Tucson, AZ, combining it with ABC affiliate KGUN.
“We are persuaded that KWBA is failing to such an extent that its ability to be a viable voice in the Tucson market is severely hampered,” the FCC concluded, “placing it at a competitive disadvantage.”
JBG told the FCC that it would add a 30-minute newscast on KWBA – which would not be at all surprising for KNIN as well.
(Editor’s note: If KTRV or KBCI were buying KNIN I probably wouldn’t be writing this – but since JBG owns radio stations, and this issue directly applies to those stations in this market, I’m liberally bending the no-TV rule.)