A Los Angeles area multi-media company is asking for one more chance to explain to a court why the FCC was wrong to cancel a construction permit (CP) it once held.
Levine/Schwab Partnership, which does business as Schwab MultiMedia LLC, has filed a request with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for an en banc hearing. The company is asking the court to reconsider an earlier decision in which the three-judge panel unanimously rejected the company’s appeal of an FCC decision that stripped away its chance to build a station.
Schwab MultiMedia admits there were delays in its attempts to build a transmitter site, but claims the FCC withheld critical information the court could have used in its decision making,
The company, which first applied to the FCC to build a new AM station in the Los Angeles area in 2004, was later awarded a CP in 2016 for the new station at 1500 kHz. However, a series of events “beyond its control” led to the station not being built. The FCC eventually denied the group’s fourth tolling request to extend the construction deadline for the unbuilt KWIF(AM), licensed to Culver City, Calif.
Absent an extension from the FCC, a broadcaster must build a station within three years, according to the FCC. The commission had previously granted Schwab MultiMedia three extensions to toll, or pause, the CP clock.
Schwab MultiMedia appealed the FCC’s decision and, in its latest petition, says this is a case of exceptional importance due to the possible loss of a major market radio station in Los Angeles. “This is unfortunately due to the confusion and misunderstanding of how information is misinterpreted by the court and other information curiously withheld by the FCC to you during the appeal hearing.”
The AM wannabe, which claims in its filing that KWIF would have likely been the final AM license ever granted in the United States, says the court’s decision seems to be based on the company “not having a site” or lease of one. It then explains why the appeals court should reconsider:
- In the first place, a lease is not required by the FCC;
- Only reasonable assurances are required by the FCC;
- Verbal agreements for a lease would qualify;
- In fact, (Schwab) did have a lease and it was submitted in evidence, yet was somehow glossed over or not considered in the decision; and
- Therefore, that point which seemed to be of importance in the decision is moot.
Schwab MultiMedia in the filing also includes a brief rundown of what transpired and how if found itself in such a predicament. The company says the landlord of its original site withdrew permission to build the station. Then a subsequent site selected at the former KISS(AM) transmission facility in Montecito Heights, Los Angeles drew series of informal objections from Intelli Broadcasting, which operates KSPA(AM). That again slowed progress of the project, the company contends.
Lastly, the group proposed building the station at an alternative site at Fox Hills Mall in Culver City, Calif.
“These confusing events occurred so quickly I am sure that it was challenging even for counsel to keep up with timely and confusing procedural filings with the commission. We were then faced, not only with fires in the LA area but COVID causing the city of LA and Culver City to mandate closings that prohibited our readiness to construct,” the company told the court.
The appeal, signed by William Schwab, member of Levine/Schwab Partnership, claims the AM station would operate in digital-mode only. “A major goal of the FCC right now is to see Digital Radio Broadcasting implemented on AM. Since that is the mode of transmission of choice for me, we would be the only fully digital station in the market, to my knowledge.”
Schwab MultiMedia continues its argument: “The FCC point of view is that they like qualified operators. It will be at no cost to the commission to allow us to proceed, and if permitted the station will go on to prove itself as the shining star of the city.”
If the AM station were to fail after a court and FCC decision in Schwab’s favor, it should be “only from my own fault, and not one because of a tiny procedural snafu in this legal quagmire,” Schwab writes.