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De La Hunt Gets Green Light on Main Studio Waiver

“We had the local funeral home write a letter because they can’t even bury people”

One small-market broadcaster has won more time from the FCC to build a new studio in the face of an expiring CP — perhaps giving hope to some other broadcasters in similar situations.

In Januar, De La Hunt Broadcasting filed a petition for reconsideration of part of the recent Main Studio Order. Ed De La Hunt asked that the FCC allow permittees holding unbuilt CPs for new facilities and less than six months left in their construction periods (as of the effective date of the new rule) to have an additional six months to construct.

De La Hunt explained that it earlier had obtained a CP for Pine River, Minn., but found it too expensive to construct the facility. The CP was set to expire April 23. But with the FCC’s decision to eliminate the old main studio rule, the company said it was again feasible to begin construction. However it’s downright cold in Minnesota in the winter, and De La Hunt told the Media Bureau he needed additional time because the ground was frozen.

“You cannot build a radio station when the frost is six feet in the ground,” De La Hunt told Radio World. “It’s impossible to put tower wires in.”

The FCC said on record that it agrees with the De La Hunt’s argument that the cost of complying with the main studio rule was dissuading some small broadcasters from launching stations, even when a construction permit had been obtained.

The FCC turned to its rulebook and said industry-wide petitions like this can only be granted for certain reasons: if circumstances changed, if new facts have appeared or if the issue is in the public interest. The commission found that none of these applied, so it denied De La Hunt’s petition for reconsideration but gave him a six-month extension through an individual waiver.

For stations in a similar situation, De La Hunt said, the critical piece is to lay out the roadblocks the station is facing. “We had the local funeral home write a letter because they can’t even bury people,” he said. “We had the septic people write a letter saying they were out pumping the ground, and a contractor who said they are not be able to start building until later because of the frost. You couldn’t dig.”

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