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WSVI(TV), WZVI(TV) Transfer of Control Application; Satellite Waiver

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Released: July 28, 2011
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554

DA 11-1268
Released: July 28, 2011

Alpha Broadcasting Corporation
c/o John M. Burgett, Esq.
Wiley Rein LLP
1776 K Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20006
Re:
Application for Consent to Transfer of Control
WSVI(TV), Christiansted, USVI, Fac. ID No. 2370
WZVI(TV), Charlotte Amalie, USVI, Fac. ID No. 83270
File No. BTCCDT-20110428ABK
Dear Counsel:
This concerns the above-referenced application for Commission consent to transfer control of
Alpha Broadcasting Corporation (“Alpha”), the licensee of commercial television stations WSVI(TV),
Christiansted, U.S. Virgin Islands, and WZVI(TV), Charlotte, Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands, from Figgie
Family Equity Fund Limited, L.L.C., to Atlas News and Information Services, Inc. As part of this
transaction, Alpha requests continuing satellite authority, pursuant to Section 73.3555, Note 5 of the
Commission’s rules, to operate WZVI(TV) as a satellite of WSVI(TV).1
In Television Satellite Stations2 the Commission stated that all applicants seeking to transfer or assign
satellite stations must 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 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


1 47 C.F.R. § 73.3555, Note 5. Authority to operate WZVI(TV) as a satellite of WSVI(TV) was initially granted by the
Commission on May 17, 2001. See Marri Broadcasting, L.P., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 16 FCC Rcd 10772 (Vid. Ser.
2001).
2 Television Satellite Stations Review of Policy and Rules, MM Docket No. 87-8, Report and Order, 6 FCC Rcd 4212, 4215 (1991)
(subsequent history omitted).
3 Id. at 4213-14.

will evaluate the proposal on an ad hoc basis, and grant the application if there are compelling
circumstances that warrant approval.4
As to the first criterion, in the digital television era there is no longer a concept of a city-grade
contour. Historically, WZVI(TV)’s analog city-grade contour overlapped that of its parent, WSVI(TV).
However, Alpha explains that the Commission found that WZVI(TV) qualified for satellite status because
the city-grade overlap occurred entirely over water. Regarding the second criterion, Charlotte Amalie,
WZVI(TV)’s community of license, continues to qualify as an underserved area under the Commission’s
transmission test. Alpha notes that when the Commission originally granted WZVI(TV) satellite status, it
determined that Charlotte Amalie was then served by only two full-power television stations. According
to Alpha, in the decade since the Commission issued WZVI(TV)’s original construction permit, no new
full-service television stations have been authorized in Charlotte Amalie.
Regarding the third criterion, Alpha asserts that no alternative operator is ready to purchase and
operate WZVI(TV) as a full-service, stand-alone station. In support of this contention, Alpha submits a
letter from Richard L. Sharpe, President of R.L. Sharpe, Ltd., a media brokerage and investment banking
firm specializing in television station transactions. Mr. Sharpe states that he has over 25 years of
experience in the broadcast industry as a broker of broadcast properties, and has appraised over 1,000
broadcast properties in all sections of the United States. He asserts that there are two owners with full-
power commercial television outlets on the air and licensed to Charlotte Amalie. Mr. Sharpe explains that
the NBC and CBS affiliations for the U.S. Virgin Islands are held by two low power television stations that
are also licensed to Charlotte Amalie. Furthermore, he adds that the U.S. Virgin Islands television market
is comprised of two islands in addition to St. Croix, where WSVI(TV) is located, and portions of the
islands contain varied and hilly terrain. Thus, it is difficult to provide over-the-air service to the entire
television market without using satellite facilities.
Mr. Sharpe concludes that it would be impracticable for WZVI(TV) to adequately serve the entire
U.S. Virgin Islands television market. He contends that with a number of outlets competing in this small
market, it would not be practical for any of the satellite stations to compete with full-power stations or
with low power stations that hold network affiliations. Moreover, he avers that the full-power stations in
the U.S. Virgin Islands are having a difficult time, even in the major population center. According to Mr.
Sharpe, a satellite station would not even have an affiliation available to enable it to compete. He explains
that WZVI(TV) does not provide a signal strong enough to cover the market, nor does it reach St. Croix.
Without a network affiliation, and with over-the-air coverage difficulties, states Mr. Sharpe, the ability of
WZVI(TV) to serve as a full-service facility would be a futile economic pursuit. Mr. Sharpe states that if
WZVI(TV) was forced to operate as a stand-alone operation and compete in the market, not only would it
suffer financially, but the viewers in its coverage area would be denied pertinent network news and
weather they now receive from WZVI(TV)’s satellite operations. Finally, Mr. Sharpe asserts that, knowing
that a prospective buyer would be hard pressed to find a successful format in a healthy environment, let
alone during a recession, he would be hesitant to offer the station for sale as a stand-alone facility.
Based on our review of the materials submitted, we find that Alpha has set forth information
sufficient to warrant continued satellite operations for WZVI(TV) under our ad hoc analysis. The
Commission originally granted WZVI(TV) satellite authority in 2001, and the factors upon which we


4 Id. at 4212.
2

based our original grant have not changed to such an extent as to alter the determination here. Thus, the
unique terrain and economic obstacles to full-service operation in the U.S. Virgin Islands constitute
“compelling circumstances” warranting continued satellite status. We, therefore, conclude that continued
operation of WZVI(TV) as a satellite of WSVI(TV) would serve the public interest.
In view of the foregoing, and having determined that the applicant is qualified in all respects, we
find that a grant of the above-referenced application would serve the public interest, convenience and
necessity.

ACCORDINGLY

, the request of Alpha Broadcasting Corporation for continued operation of
WZVI(TV), Charlotte Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands as a satellite of WSVI(TV), Christiansted, U.S. Virgin
Islands, pursuant to the satellite exception to the duopoly rule, Section 73.3555, Note 5, of the
Commission’s rules,

IS GRANTED

.

FURTHERMORE

, the above-referenced application for consent to transfer control of Alpha
Broadcasting Corporation, the licensee of commercial television stations WSVI(TV), Christiansted, U.S.
Virgin Islands, and WZVI(TV), Charlotte, Amalie, U.S. Virgin Islands, from Figgie Family Equity Fund
Limited, L.L.C., to Atlas News and Information Services, Inc.,

IS GRANTED.


Sincerely,
Barbara A. Kreisman
Chief, Video Division
Media Bureau
3

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