Saga Petition Seeks to Deny Five Virginia LPFM Renewals
|RADIO ONLINE | Thursday, September 12, 2019|
In a filing with the FCC, Saga Communications is alleging that five low power FMs in Charlottesville, VA, are breaking number of the Commission's rules and is asking the agency to deny their license renewals. Saga claims that four LPFMs in Charlottesville and one in Ruckersville are operating as under a management or operating agreement, simulcasting programming and broadcasting commercial announcements. Saga also says that the application renewals are "rife with false certifications." In addition, the company says the stations have not served the "public interest, convenience, and necessity."
The stations citied in the filing include Blue Ridge Free Media's WXRK-LP, Air Mix Virginia's WVAI-LP, Promise Land Communications' WPVC-LP, Genesis Communications' WREN-LP in Charlottesville, VA and Gateway Media's WKMZ-LP in Ruckersville, VA.
Saga's petition contained a copy of promotional literature on the letterhead of Experience Media which includes a "rate card" showing the cost of advertising on four of the five LPFM stations. The material also showed that the stations "are engaged in a forbidden management agreement," which the renewal applicants call "an umbrella group." Saga claims that no matter what it's called, such an arrangement violates FCC rules.
Also in the filing, Saga says the sales promotional literature proclaims, "Our stations are broadcast from the 250-foot monopole beside the Fashion Square Mall. With a transmitter output power of 108 watts and a height of over 830 feet above sea level, our signals reaches [sic] almost ANY radio in Charlottesville and nearby populated areas of Albemarle County loud and clear. Excellent car reception is also possible into parts of Greene and Fluvanna counties." Saga claims the use of the possessive pronouns is unmistakably a reference to "common ownership" or "common management" of the stations.
WVAI-LP owner Mike Frind is reportedly confident that he's operating within the rules and the five stations are located in the same building, but are not operating together and not commonly owned -- and only operate under a co-op arrangement.
The LPFMs have 30 days to respond to the Saga's petition.