Skip Navigation

Federal Communications Commission

English Display Options

Commission Document

Cunningham Broadcasting Corp.

Download Options

Released: November 18, 2013
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554
November 18, 2013

DA 13-2209
Released: November 18, 2013

Cunningham Broadcasting Corporation
c/o Miles S. Mason, Esq.
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
2300 N Street, NW
Washington, DC 20037
Application for Assignment of License
WGTU(TV), Traverse City, MI, ID No. 59280
WGTQ(TV), Sault Ste. Marie, MI, ID No. 59279
File Nos. BALCDT-20130315ACP-ACQ
Dear Counsel:
This letter is in reference to the unopposed, above-captioned application for assignment of the
licenses of (1) WGTU(TV), Traverse City, Michigan, and WGTQ(TV), Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, from
Tucker Broadcasting of Traverse City, Inc. to Traverse City (WGTU-TV) Licensee, Inc., an indirect,
wholly-owned subsidiaries of Cunningham Broadcasting Corporation (Cunningham). Although the
assignment does not create any new ownership combinations, Cunningham has requested authority to
continue operating WGTQ as a satellite station, 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 application.
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
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

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).
3 Id. at 4213-14.
4 Id. at 4212.
- 1 -

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 WGTU and
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, there are only two full-
power television stations licensed to Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, both of which operate as satellites.
As for the third criterion, Cunningham submits a statement from W. Lawrence Patrick, Managing
Partner of media brokerage firm Patrick Communications, who observes 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. He states that
WGTQ “does not provide a signal remotely capable of covering the market” or its two largest cities,
Traverse City and Cadillac. Moreover, with all of the major network affiliations already present in the
market, WGTQ “would not have access to programming sufficient to viably compete for audience and
revenue.” He concludes that, due to negative population growth in the market and strong competition
among the network-affiliated station, the “marketing of WGTQ as a standalone station would be
unsuccessful given the marginalized nature of the operation” and lack of available “compelling
While the instant request does not satisfy the Commission’s presumptive satellite exemption
standard, Cunningham has provided information sufficient to warrant continued satellite operation for
WGTQ under our ad hoc analysis. Given the station’s long history as a satellite, the sparse population
within its coverage area, and the declining position of the Traverse City-Cadillac DMA, it is unlikely that
an alternative operator would be willing and able to operate WGTQ as a stand-alone facility.
Accordingly, we find that the continued operation of WGTQ as a satellite of WGTU 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
WGTU(TV), Traverse City, Michigan, and WGTQ(TV), Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, from Tucker
Broadcasting of Traverse City, Inc. to Traverse City (WGTU-TV), Licensee, Inc. (File Nos. BALCDT-
Barbara A. Kreisman
Chief, Video Division
Media Bureau
- 2 -

Note: We are currently transitioning our documents into web compatible formats for easier reading. We have done our best to supply this content to you in a presentable form, but there may be some formatting issues while we improve the technology. The original version of the document is available as a PDF, Word Document, or as plain text.


You are leaving the FCC website

You are about to leave the FCC website and visit a third-party, non-governmental website that the FCC does not maintain or control. The FCC does not endorse any product or service, and is not responsible for, nor can it guarantee the validity or timeliness of the content on the page you are about to visit. Additionally, the privacy policies of this third-party page may differ from those of the FCC.