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FCC Rules Against Station That Questioned Local Ownership Rule

3 Daughters Media asked FCC to reconsider the assignment of FM station

It’s a case of mixed up math. Or is it?

3 Daughters Media, a radio licensee in Virginia, says the FCC did not properly apply the local radio ownership rule in the Roanoke market when it agreed to reassign the license of WLNI(FM) in Lynchburg from Centennial Licensing to Mel Wheeler Inc.

The FCC Media Bureau says otherwise and ruled against 3 Daughters.

3 Daughters argued that Mel Wheeler Inc. should not be able to own another station in the Roanoke/Lynchburg market. It said the bureau’s station count for the Roanoke Metro Arbitron area erroneously included one station, WODI(AM) in Lynchburg, Va., and excluded another, WVBB(FM) in Elliston-Lafayette, Va. When WODI is excluded and WVBB is included, according to 3 Daughters, the commission’s local radio ownership rule bars assignment of WLNI to Wheeler.

3 Daughters argued that the bureau should not have included WODI in the count because the station went silent on Aug. 30, 2013, subsequent to the bureau’s grant of the application. The media company also said the use of Total Line Reporting — used by Arbitron when stations simulcast programming — contributed to the station being assigned to the incorrect home market.

The FCC disagreed with both arguments. Regarding operational status of the station, the commission said in its order: “It is a station’s operational status at the time the station count is performed — not at a later date — that is relevant.”

The commission also dismissed 3 Daughters’ attempt to “pick and choose which stations are included in a market for the purpose of analyzing different proposed station acquisitions.” It made its ruling Sept. 16.

“3 Daughters has not demonstrated that BIA varied from its own practices in excluding WVBB(FM) from the list of stations that are ‘home’ to the Roanoke Metro,” the order stated.