Sinclair Television Group, Inc.
Washington, D.C. 20554
November 18, 2013
Released: November 18, 2013
c/o Clifford M. Harrington, Esq.
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
2300 N Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
Applications for Assignment of License
KVII-TV, Amarillo, TX, ID No. 40446
KVIH-TV, Clovis, NM, ID No. 40450
File Nos. BALCDT-20130315ACC-ACD
WPBN-TV, Traverse City, MI, ID No. 21253
WTOM-TV, Cheboygan, MI, ID No. 21254
File Nos. BALCDT-20130315ADS-ADT
This letter is in reference to the unopposed, above-captioned applications for assignment of the
licenses of (1) KVII-TV, Amarillo, Texas, and KVIH-TV, Clovis, New Mexico, from Barrington
Amarillo License LLC to KVII Licensee, LLC; and (2) WPBN-TV, Traverse City, Michigan, and
WTOM-TV, Cheboygan, Michigan, from Barrington Traverse City License LLC to WPBN Licensee,
LLC. Both proposed assignees are indirect, wholly-owned subsidiaries of Sinclair Television Group, Inc.
(Sinclair). Although the assignments do not create any new ownership combinations, Sinclair has
requested authority to continue operating KVIH-TV and WTOM-TV as satellite stations, pursuant to Note
5 of Section 73.3555 of the Commission’s rules.1 For the reasons set forth below, we grant the request for
continuing satellite authority and the applications.
In Television Satellite Stations,2 the Commission established the requirement that all applicants
seeking to transfer or assign satellite stations justify continued satellite status by demonstrating
compliance with a three-part “presumptive” satellite exemption standard applicable to new satellite
stations. The presumptive satellite exemption is met if the following three public interest criteria are
satisfied: (1) there is no City Grade overlap between the parent and the satellite; (2) the proposed satellite
would provide service to an underserved area; and (3) no alternative operator is ready and able to
1 47 C.F.R. § 73.3555, Note 5.
2 Television Satellite Stations Review of Policies and Rules, Report and Order, 6 FCC Rcd 4212, 4215
(1991)(subsequent history omitted)(Television Satellite Stations).
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construct or to purchase and operate the satellite as a full-service station.3 If an applicant does not qualify
for the presumption, the Commission will evaluate the proposal on an ad hoc basis and grant the
application if there are compelling circumstances that warrant approval.4
Amarillo Market. With respect to the first criterion, we note that, following the digital transition,
full-power television stations have a digital Principal Community contour that serves a much larger area
than their former analog City Grade contour. The digital Principal Community contour thus does not
provide an equivalent standard for determining whether a station qualifies for the presumptive satellite
exemption. However, prior to the digital transition, there was no City Grade contour overlap between
KVII-TV and KVIH-TV.
Regarding the second criterion, the Commission’s “transmission” test deems an area underserved
if there are two or fewer full-power television stations (including commercial, noncommercial, and
satellite stations) licensed to the proposed satellite’s community of license. Here, KVIH-TV remains the
only full-power television station licensed to Clovis, New Mexico.
As for the third criterion, Sinclair cites previous Commission decisions authorizing KVIH-TV to
operate as a satellite of KVII-TV, including renewals of such status in 2002, 2005, and 2011, which
determined that the sparsely-populated coverage area lacked a sufficient economic base to support a
viable, stand-alone operation. It states that there have been no changes to the technical facilities or
coverage area of KVIH-TV and that the core circumstances underlying the previous authorizations of
satellite status have not changed, as detailed in the statement from Brian E. Cobb, President of the media
brokerage and appraisal firm CobbCorp LLC.
Cobb notes that Clovis, New Mexico, is located more than 100 miles from Amarillo, Texas, the
major population and economic center of the Amarillo Designated Market Area (DMA), which has
declined both in market ranking and television advertising revenue since the Commission last authorized
satellite operations. He further states that the KVIH-TV coverage area does not contain any “significant
population centers that would provide sufficient viewers and advertising to support full-service
operations,” that the station “has operated at a loss,” and that, without the financial resources of KVII-TV,
“its prospects of economic survival would be virtually impossible.”
Traverse City-Cadillac Market. As noted above, the first criterion of the presumptive standard is
no longer relevant in the digital environment. However, prior to the digital transition, there was no City
Grade contour overlap between WPBN-TV and WTOM-TV. The second criterion is satisfied under the
“transmission” test, as WTOM-TV is the only full-power television station licensed to Cheboygan,
Concerning the third criterion, Sinclair again notes that WTOM-TV has long operated as a
satellite of WPBN-TV, including renewals of such status in 1996, 1997, 2006, and 2011, and states that
there have been no changes to the technical facilities or coverage area of WTOM-TV. It submits that the
conditions supporting the previous authorizations remain, including, as noted in a statement from Mr.
Cobb, that each of the four full-service commercial television stations assigned to the Traverse City-
Cadillac DMA is affiliated with a “Big Four” network and uses a satellite to reach Michigan’s sparsely
populated Upper Peninsula and that, due to “the insufficiency of the signal to cover key portions of the
3 Id. at 4213-14.
4 Id. at 4212.
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DMA, the limited population and economic base in that coverage area, and the lack of any realistic
prospect to obtain a major network affiliation,” WTOM-TV “needs to continue to operate as a satellite of
a viable sister facility.”
While the instant requests do not satisfy the Commission’s presumptive satellite exemption
standard, Sinclair has provided information sufficient to warrant continued satellite operation for KVIH-
TV and WTOM-TV under our ad hoc analysis. Given the stations’ long history as satellites, the sparse
population within their coverage areas, and the declining position of the Amarillo and Traverse City-
Cadillac DMAs, it is unlikely that an alternative operator would be willing and able to operate KVIH-TV
and WTOM-TV as stand-alone facilities. Accordingly, we find that the continued operation of KVIH-TV
as a satellite of KVII-TV and WTOM-TV as a satellite of WPBN-TV would serve the public interest.
Furthermore, having carefully reviewed the applications, we find that the applicants are fully
qualified and conclude that the grant of the applications would serve the public interest.
ACCORDINGLY, IT IS ORDERED That the application for the assignment of the licenses of
KVII-TV, Amarillo, Texas, and KVIH-TV, Clovis, New Mexico, from Barrington Amarillo License LLC
to KVII Licensee, LLC (File Nos. BALCDT-20130315ACC-ACD) IS GRANTED. IT IS FURTHER
ORDERED That the application for assignment of the licenses of WPBN-TV, Traverse City, Michigan,
and WTOM-TV, Cheboygan, Michigan, from Barrington Traverse City License LLC to WPNB Licensee,
LLC (File Nos. BALCDT-20130315ADS-ADT) IS GRANTED.
Barbara A. Kreisman
Chief, Video Division
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