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FCC’s Delaware Station Proposal Draws Doubt

SEAFORD, DEL.: The FCC’s proposal to assign a VHF license to this small Delaware community is raising eyebrows among observers. In particular, Chip Weinman, president of the Maryland-D.C.-Delaware Broadcasters Association. His comments on the proposal are circulating in regional media.

“Who would local advertisers be for a local station in Seaford?” he told The Daily Times. Weinman said local businesses in the area traditionally target Philadelphia, Baltimore and Salisbury, Md. Seaford, pictured left, has a population of around 6,700.

The FCC proposed moving a license for Channel 5 to Seaford after turning down a request from PMCM TV to move the license for KJWY-TV in Jackson, Wyo., to Wilmington, Del., opting instead to auction a license. Federal rules require the allocation of at least one commercial VHF assignment in each state. Delaware doesn’t have one. Channel 12 in Wilmington is allotted to WHYY-TV, the state’s primary public broadcaster, though its studios are located in Philadelphia.

The Times said Seaford was selected because Wilmington is already served by Philly stations. The FCC waived its freeze on filing for new DTV allotments last month to initiate the Seaford proceeding. Comments are due on the related Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, No. 09-230 by Jan. 29; replies are due Feb. 16. If the proposal results in a winning bid, a full-power TV station will have to be built out on the frequency within three years.