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WMDE-TV Wins Reassignment

WASHINGTON—One of the newest—and probably the last—full-power TV stations in the country is moving—its community of license, that is. Western Pacific Broadcast, owners of WDME-TV, asked the Federal Communications Commission to move the license from Seaford to Dover, Del. The commission granted it permission in a May 1 ruling, which was published in the Federal Register today:

“The commission, at the request of Western Pacific Broadcast… amends the Post-Transition Table of DTV Allotments to delete Ch. 5 at Seaford and substitute Ch. 5 at Dover, Del., and to modify WMDE-TV’s construction permit to specify Dover as the station’s community of license.”

The rule takes effect June 13.

The license for WDME was one of two auctioned off after the 2009 digital transition, which left Delaware and New Jersey without at least one full-power VHF TV station as required by law. Western, a holding company formed by Tampa, Fla.-Richland Towers, paid $4.1 million for both licenses in 2011. The New Jersey license was for Atlantic City, where Western launched WCAP-TV in June of 2012.

WDME’s launch has been on hold pending the outcome of Western’s request to move it to Dover, filed Oct. 9, 2012. The request was challenged by PMCM, a Wall, N.J., company with stations in Wyoming and Nevada. PMCM had petitioned the FCC to let it fill the VHF vacuum in New Jersey and Delaware by reassigning its Wyoming and Nevada licenses.

The commission denied the request, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit reversed the FCC in December of 2012.PMCM moved its Wyoming station to Wilmington, Del., changed the calls from KJWY to KJWP, and signed on the air in 720p in late 2013. The Nevada station, KVNV, is being moved to New York under a license assignment for Middletown Township, N.J. (See “PMCM completes first of two cross-country TV moves,” at CommLawBlog, Nov. 19, 2013.)

Western Broadcast originally had until May 4 of this year to build out the WMDE facility in Seaford, but was granted “tolling,” essentially a postponement of license revocation, pending the outcome of its request. Western will have six months to fire up WMDE “after all challenges to the grant of construction permit for Seaford, Del., have become final and non-appealable.”