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N.J. AM Station Loses Second Translator Appeal

No joy for Mariana for Pompton Lakes FM signal

A New Jersey AM station that had hoped to use an FM translator to add nighttime service is out of luck. The staff of the FCC has said no, again, to its appeal.

Mariana Broadcasting wanted the commission to reinstate an FM translator, W276BX, in Pompton Lakes that New Jersey Public Broadcasting had turned in. Mariana owns WGHT(AM) in the same town.

In 2008, NJPBA asked the commission to cancel the translator license; the FCC staff went along with that and did so in January 2009. But the next month, Mariana asked the commission to backtrack, saying cancellation was “contrary to the public interest, and harmful to the welfare and safety of the residents of Pompton Lakes.” It included supportive letters from local police and legislators.

The commission in turn rejected the appeal, saying Mariana had failed to show that its interests had been adversely affected. It ruled at the time that cancellation didn’t affect Mariana’s current programming or coverage, and that the AM owner has no rights with regard to assignment or disposal of the license. The FCC staff also noted that the commission has no authority to require NJPBA to keep or take on a license. Further, other applicants might have procedural rights involved with the translator.

Mariana appealed the rejection, basing its argument on the fact that 167,000 people within 5 miles of its AM transmitter have no other local radio news or events coverage after sunset. It made several legal arguments, including that a station can’t choose to cease being a licensee to the detriment of the public or another licensee, and that the AM station’s ability to utilize an FM translator, and to provide service at night, would be eliminated if W276BX were not reinstated. It also noted that only a currently licensed FM translator station may be used to retransmit the signal of an AM station under the rules.

The FCC rejected those arguments and also said the station’s appeal was repetitious. The ruling was announced last week but was overshadowed by the Radio Show convention.