Court Reverses FCC Denial of Station License Reallocation to New Jersey, Delaware

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has told the
FCC to allow the reallocation of two station licenses from Nevada and
Wyoming to New Jersey and Delaware, saying the move squares with the intent of
a law that each state have at least one VHF station if it is technically

The FCC in September 2011 upheld a 2009 Media Bureau
decision denying the move of TV station channel licenses from Wyoming and
Nevada to New Jersey and Delaware, which at the time of the initial request had
no VHF stations. When PMCM TV, owner of KJWY-TV Jackson (Wyo.), and KVNV-TV Ely
(Nev.), filed for the move, New Jersey and Delaware were the only states
without a VHF station. That was after WOR-TV Secaucus went digital and moved to
a UHF channel.

The stations asked to be "reallocated" across the
country, but theFCC concluded that "reallocation" meant moving stations from one
community to another because they were interfering with a nearby station on the
same channel.

The court disagreed, and on Friday threw out that decision
and told
the FCC to approve the move. 

"The Commission denied the application, interpreting
section 331(a) to require reallocations of channels only between neighboring
locations," said the court. "Because the Commission's decision
conflicts with the statute's text and purpose and because appellant can move
its channels without creating signal interference, we reverse....given the
Commission's concession that PMCM's proposal is technically feasible, we
reverse and remand to the Commission with instructions to approve the

An FCC spokesman was unavailable for comment.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.