At least one TV station has been given two more years to post its political file online and more such exceptions may be in the works.
The issue affects radio as well as television as commission officials intend to require radio to eventually post station public inspection files online also.
Affiliates of the top four television networks in the top 50 Nielsen markets were to begin posting files to the FCC’s new hosted public inspection file interface Aug. 2 with other TV stations to follow within two years.
NBC affiliate WMGM(TV) is licensed to Wildwood, N.J. and assigned to the Philadelphia Nielsen market.
The station asked for a waiver from posting its political file online for several reasons. WMGM said WCAU, not WMGM, is the main NBC affiliate serving Philadelphia. The station also said its location in the Philadelphia Nielsen DMA does not reflect the reality of the market. WMGM said its service area has always been Atlantic City, N. J., but because Nielsen’s market rankings do not rank Atlantic City as a separate market, WMGM is instead included as part of the Philadelphia DMA. However, WMGM argued that it remains a small market station and only competes in the Atlantic City portion of the Philadelphia DMA.
The FCC has recognized WMGM as a small market station, the station pointed out. In 1995, the agency first allowed WMGM to pay regulatory fees scaled down for a smaller station and continues to do so, noting that the WMGM(TV) predicted Grade B contour does not reach Philadelphia or any other major metro within the Philadelphia market.
The FCC agreed with WMGM’s arguments and gave the station the extra two years to begin posting the political file documents. However, the commission cautioned WMGM to begin posting its other public file documents to the commission-hosted public file interface.