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FCC Using BIA Market Information; Dismisses Beasley Deal

FCC Using BIA Market Information; Dismisses Beasley Deal

Buried in the decision about an $850,000 deal last week, the FCC revealed it is now using Arbitron information “as reported by BIA” for market information rather than relying strictly on Arbitron Radio Metros.
The commission will now count above-the-line stations as being in an Arbitron Metro “as determined by BIA,” the agency stated, because it recognizes that stations can “opt in” or “opt out” of a metro in certain circumstances.
To deter stations from trying to manipulate the relevant data to get around the local ownership limits, the FCC says applicants may not rely on market changes by BIA until two years have gone by.
In the specific decision, Beasley was trying to get a waiver of local ownership limits in order to buy WGQR(FM) and WBLA(AM) in Elizabethtown, N.C. from Sound Business of Elizabethtown for $850,000. In the market, one entity may not own more than six stations, and not more than four in the same band.
The FCC relied on geography-based market info from both Arbitron and BIA in making its decision. Arbitron and BIA list the stations in the Fayetteville market and the FCC said Beasley was at the ownership limit there. The agency rejected Beasley’s argument that WGQR doesn’t compete in Fayetteville because it fails to place a 70 dBu signal over any part of the Fayetteville Metro, and covers only a small portion of the market with its 60 dBu contour.
The commission said Beasley controls the largest number of stations in the market, collects the greatest revenues and holds the greatest audience share.
The commission denied the waiver and dismissed the deal.