WASHINGTON—The FCC has proposed fining Gray Television a half a million dollars for violating its rules against owning two full power stations in the same DMA that are among the top four rated stations in the market.
FCC concluded that the ownership and operation of the KTUU-TV NBC-affiliated station and the KYES-TV CBS-affiliated station by Gray from July 31, 2020 until March 3, 2021 violated its rules.
The action stems from a deal between Gray and Denali Media, when Gray acquired most of the non-license assets of KTVA(TV) on July 31, 2020, the FCC reported.
“Gray began broadcasting the same program schedule on [Gray-owned] KYES-TV that had previously appeared on [Denali Media’s] CBS station KTVA(TV). Gray also owns KTUU-TV, Anchorage, Alaska, an NBC affiliate, and at the time of closing KTUU-TV and KTVA(TV) were ranked numbers one and two, respectively, in the Anchorage market, under the audience share prong of the Local Television Ownership Rule. Therefore, Gray was operating two top four full power stations in the same market,” the FCC noted.
In September of 2020, Denali filed a request for KTVA(TV) to go dark and the station remains off the air today.
“Gray neither contacted Commission staff about the permissibility of the transaction with the licensee of KTVA(TV) nor filed a request for waiver of section 73.3555 prior to consummation,” the FCC reported. “Gray has informed the Commission that, effective March 3, 2021, it has modified its operations by moving the CBS programming formerly broadcast on full power KYES-TV to the primary channel of its current low power translator station, K22HN-D, and airing a simulcast of the CBS programming carried by K22HN-D on a digital sub channel of its full power station KTUU-TV.”
“The Commission previously has placed licensees `on notice’ that efforts to evade the Top-Four Prohibition through engaging in such a change of affiliation would be subject to `divestiture or enforcement action,’” the FCC also noted. “Accordingly, we find that the continued ownership and operation of the KTUU-TV NBC-affiliated station and the KYES-TV CBS-affiliated station from July 31, 2020, until March 3, 2021, apparently violated Note 11 to section 73.3555 of the Rules and take appropriate enforcement action.”
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