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FCC Denies Waiver Bid, Rules Nassau Must End JSA

WASHINGTON -- August 12, 2008: The FCC's Media Bureau has denied Nassau Broadcasting's request for a temporary waiver or stay of FCC attribution rules for joint sales agreements until after the bureau's review of its earlier dismissal of an application to acquire WWHK/Concord, NH, is completed, and ordered that the JSA be terminated.

Back in January 2005, Nassau filed an application for transfer of control of WWHK from Capitol Broadcasting. The companies said that, after the transfer, Nassau would have four stations in the Manchester, NH, metro, and included with the application a JSA for Nassau to sell ads on WWHK that dated back to July 2004.

But in September 2004, Arbitron had created the Concord, NH, metro, and three of Nassau's four Manchester stations landed in that new metro. With the five stations Nassau already had in the metro, that put it at seven FMs and one AM -- over the six-station market limit and the four-station FM sub-cap. With that in mind, the Media Bureau dismissed the transfer application for WWHK.

Nassau and Capitol argued that there should be a two-year waiting period before Arbitron changes would bar an acquisition and filed an application for review, along with a waiver request. Nassau claimed a denial of the JSA attribution waiver will amount to a denial of its application for review of the transfer dismissal as well, since it would be based on WWHK's being in Concord rather than Manchester -- which was its metro when Nassau applied for the transfer.

The FCC rejected Nassau's arguments, saying it knew Arbitron was about to create a Concord metro when it made the deal with Capitol. It also ordered that the JSA be terminated immediately and said it will "address the enforcement issues" related to Nassau's and Concord's continuing the JSA after September 2006, when the FCC required all non-compliant JSAs to be terminated.

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