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Cumulus Wins Out in Pensacola/Mobile Case

ADX raised questions involving ‘multiple ownership’ rules

Three FM stations in Florida and Alabama can become part of Cumulus, after the FCC staff rejected an effort to deny the change. Among questions raised were when to apply a contour-overlap analysis and whether Pensacola and Mobile should be considered a single market.

The three stations are WMEZ in Pensacola, Fla., and WXBM in Milton, Fla., both acquired by Cumulus from 6 Johnson Road Licenses Inc.; as well as WABD (the former WLVM) in Mobile, Ala., acquired from Educational Media Foundation.

ADX Communications had fought the assignment of licenses.

The case dates to May, when the commission granted a change in community of license for another Cumulus station, WDLT(FM), moving it into the Mobile metro market. (The station was WYOK for more than a decade.)

Among other arguments, ADX raised concerns about FCC “multiple ownership” rules and said Cumulus was trying to circumvent having to do a contour-overlap analysis by relocating WDLT’s community of license to within the Mobile Arbitron metro. The move would allow Cumulus to acquire the three stations, according to ADX, because while those applications would meet multiple ownership rules under an Arbitron Metro-based analysis, they would fail using a contour-overlap analysis.

In the end, the commission staff ruled that ADX did not make its case, and allowed the three assignments of license to Cumulus.

Another question was whether the Pensacola and Mobile metros should be considered one market. ADX said yes, but the FCC agreed with Cumulus that there is nothing new or unique about two adjacent Arbitron markets sharing numerous radio stations.

Read the details.