Scott Fybush scott@fybush.com
Thu May 12 11:25:47 EDT 2005

At 02:07 AM 5/12/2005 -0400, Joseph Pappalardo wrote:

> > In addition, since the FCC has granted WNSH's upgrade, any application for
> > WPEP's current facilities would now interfere with the WNSH signal and
> > would be rejected on those grounds.
>I suppose people in Taunton might have been able to challenge the WNSH
>upgrade application...if they had known about the stipulation that they
>would lose their local station.  (The WNSH application has already been
>granted at this point, right?)

But the question still remains - on what grounds would it have been challenged?

"People in Taunton" don't hold the WPEP license. Anastos Broadcasting does. 
It paid the money to buy the station, and if it wants to enter into a deal 
to shut the station down, that's a valid and legal business transaction, 
too. There's FCC precedent for allowing a station to be compensated for 
reducing power or going dark to improve overall service to the public by 
allowing another station to increase power. (Look at what happened - can it 
already be more than a decade ago? - with WLIB and WOWO.)

"People in Taunton" had several opportunities to buy WPEP over the years. 
They didn't want to take the risk, so first Keating Willcox and then 
Anastos stepped forward with the money. That's business.

(And to answer the question about why Anastos would want to buy WPEP only 
to then agree to shut it down - remember that WPEP came as part of a 
package with most of the rest of Keating's stations, including WSNH in 
Nashua and WNRI in Woonsocket. It's not unreasonable to think that WPEP was 
not the most attractive part of that package.)

> > And in any case, you can only apply for a new AM station when the FCC
> > a window for such applications. The last such window was open last year,
> > and that one was the first in more than three years.
>"Special Circumstances" might be a premise that for consideration of an
>application.  (Since it is not for a 'new' station, but to continue service
>to the community....a community that is losing it's station.)

But in the eyes of the FCC, Taunton is not losing radio service. The 
situation would be somewhat different if WSNE were not licensed there - but 
it is, and since the FCC doesn't consider programming issues and WSNE meets 
whatever minimal standards currently exist for service to its community of 
license, there are no "special circumstances" that would hold water here.

The FCC takes the window process very seriously. Every applicant could come 
up with some sort of "special circumstances"; the use of windows keeps 
everything on a reasonably even keel nationwide.

And in this case, there's no evidence to suggest that the licensee of WPEP 
really has any interest in keeping the business going. The talk of moving 
to another frequency seems to me to be mostly wishful thinking on the part 
of some of the station's staffers and perhaps a smokescreen to keep current 
listeners and advertisers happy for however many months or years the 
station remains on the air.

>Especially since community members and leader were probably not made aware
>of the impact of an upgrade to a station in Beverly would mean to their
>town.  (Most broadcast organizations have DC Lawyers on retainer to troll
>thru applications, to spot things like this.  But, solicitors and selectmen
>probably do not.)

To play devil's advocate here, if the civic leaders of Taunton are that 
concerned about maintaining local radio coverage, they should have bought 
their own station. Yes, WPEP provided a useful civic service, but it's 
still a private business and the owner of that business has the right to 
decide what will become of it. If it's more profitable to let the frequency 
get bought out by Beverly, do the civic leaders of Taunton have the right 
to prevent WPEP's owners from making that profit? They're not the ones who 
took the risks inherent in buying a small AM station in this day and age.

It's nice, certainly, to have the presence of a local radio station 
covering civic events - but it's not an entitlement. The way the broadcast 
rules are written these days, the FCC is mandated to provide a "fair and 
equitable" distribution of broadcast service, but there are no programming 
mandates requiring those signals to cover city council, school committee or 
lost dog reports. So Taunton's left with just WSNE as "local" service - how 
is that any different from "Framingham's" WKOX/WROR, "Natick's" WBIX, 
"Dedham's" WAMG, etc. etc. etc.?


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