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TV deal legalese is receiving fine-toothed comb treatment


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POSTED: Sunday, November 01, 2009

Attorneys for Media Council Hawaii and the Federal Communications Commission have something in common, aside from their JDs (law degrees).

They are reviewing 144 pages of FCC-requested documents relating to the locally unprecedented news and operational consolidation between KHNL-TV and the now-swapped KGMB-TV and KFVE-TV. The gross-o'-pages were submitted by station owners Raycom Media Inc. and MCG Capital Corp. and received by the FCC, the media council's counsel and the media council itself.

“;It's so convoluted,”; Chris Conybeare, Media Council Hawaii president, said of the submission. He joked that it could provide “;a little light reading for the weekend.”;

The FCC compelled the station owners to submit the documents due to opposition to the stations' seven-year shared services agreement filed by Media Council Hawaii — and supported by several other community organizations.

The pages appear to be written in English, though clearly not by a party or parties who eschew obfuscation.

Numerous pages have had information redacted, for example, the apparent dollar value of a promissory note issued by Raycom to an affiliate of HITV Operating Co. that is the licensee of the station that was KGMB, but which is now KFVE.

The redaction was undertaken to “;protect the confidentiality of proprietary and competitively sensitive information,”; an explanatory page says.

The documents make repeated references that the shared services agreement does not amount to what FCC regulations would determine to be a transfer of control — but the media council has from the start called the arrangement a “;shell game”; designed to give Raycom control over two broadcast network affiliates, which are two of Hawaii's top-rated TV stations, in violation of FCC regulations.

An included assignment agreement appears to give an option to purchase HITV's station, the former KGMB, now KFVE, to North Carolina-based Ottumwa Media Holdings LLC, which Raycom describes as being “;experienced in the broadcasting business.”;

It is a Delaware corporation established in Iowa but based in North Carolina, according to online business registration records.

An FCC database shows Ottumwa is the licensee of KYOU-TV in Ottumwa, Iowa, licensed on June 16, as well as a UHF television translator station in Kirksville, Mo., as well as some corollary licenses.

 

HAWTEL FINED

It's not just radio stations that get dinged by the FCC for tower violations.

The FCC's Honolulu Resident Agent Office received a complaint on June 25 that Hawaiian Telcom's 154-foot-tall tower next to Highway 19 in Kamuela had been unlit for more than a month.

Hawaiian Telcom paid $10,000 for having an unlit beacon atop an antenna tower and nonfunctioning side obstruction lights halfway up the structure on which the paint was “;severely cracked, chipped and faded.”;

The company also had failed to notify the Federal Aviation Administration's Flight Service Station of the tower light outage, as is required.

“;Hawaiian Telcom acknowledged that they were unaware of both the tower light outage and the requirements”; to notify the FAA, according to the FCC's Notice of Apparent Liability.

Hawaiian Telcom filed the required report the day the FCC's Honolulu Resident Agent brought it to the company's attention.

“;We have not contested this, have paid the fine and are working to bring the site in compliance,”; said Ann Nishida, Hawaiian Telcom media relations manager.

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Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).