FCC Waives Duopoly Rule In Wichita Sale

The FCC Monday waived its duopoly rules to allow one company to own two TV stations in the Wichita market.

Saying that KSCW met its criteria for a failing station, the commission said it was granting the transfer of the license from WLBB Broadcasting to Sunflower Broadcasting.

The FCC's TV duopoly rule only allows dual station ownership in markets where neither of the two stations in question are rated in the top four and there will still be eight independnently-owned stations in the market after the two are allowed to be jointly owned.

The Wichita combo does not meet that test, but the FCC makes exceptions where the merger would help a financially troubled station. According to filings, KSCW has had six-figure losses for the last three years and its share of audience has not gotten above 2.7% of the market.

The commission also noted that Sunflower has promised to start broadcasting weather and other important local information that KSCW has not been able to afford to do.

 Even with a failing station, the FCC prefers an out-of-market buyer who could also revive the station, but without needing a rule waiver. In this case, broker Kalil said it had sought out 16 out-of-market buyers, with only one showing interest, and that "well below its appraised value."

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.