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FCC Allows Louisiana Duop

Citing evidence of a bleak financial picture and no prospective out-of-market buyer, the FCC has agreed to waive its duopoly rule and has granted the sale of KPXJ Minden, La. to Minden Television.

Minden already owns KTBS Shreveport, and since the sale would leave fewer than eight independently owned TV's in the market, the deal would ordinarily run afoul of the FCC's station ownership limits.

But the FCC makes an exception in the case of "failing stations," and CW affiliate KPXJ filled the till.

According to evidence submitted to the FCC, the station has lost money for the last three years, over most of which time it averaged a 1 share of audience with the exception of two
sweeps ratings books, and was never over 4%.

The FCC requires low audience share and poor financial condition as two of its four criteria for a waiver.

Another of those is that the in-market buyer is the only "reasonably available" candidate.

KPXJ offered evidence from its station broker to the effect that of the more than 30 prospective buyers contacted--prospects because they owned stations in similar markets and with similar CW affiliations--only one had any interest, which did not extend past an offering memorandum from KPXJ.

The fourth condition is an affirmative obligation on the buyer to show the public interest benefit of new ownership.

KTBS promised that it would expand existing morning and evening newscasts from a half-hour to an hour and consider adding a noon newscast. It said it would also add local sports coverage and expand and improve emergency alerts.

In a letter to Minden, the FCC's new Media Bureau Chief William Lake said the commission approved the deal because "We believe that the proposed merger of the two stations will not only help KPXJ overcome its existing shortcomings, but that it will provide a tangible benefit to the community through the expansion of local news and public affairs programming on the station."