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KUSF sign in 2015 - Photo: J. Waits

FCC Denies Applications for Review Related to Sale of College Radio Station KUSF’s License

It’s been a long, contentious battle over the one-time FM college radio station KUSF-FM at University of San Francisco (USF), whose license was sold to Classical Public Radio Network (CPRN) after the sudden shut-down of the college radio station in January, 2011. After numerous legal filings and an FCC investigation, the license sale was approved and a Consent Decree was issued (along with a collective fine for USF and CPRN) in 2012. At the time, two Applications for Review were submitted to the FCC by Friends of KUSF and Ted Hudacko, arguing, among other things, that additional scrutiny needed to be applied to the USF/CPRN deal.

Today, the FCC released a memorandum and order (PDF) denying the final Applications for Review that were filed in regards to the sale of the KUSF-FM license (the CPRN-owned station is now known as KOSC-FM and airs classical music programming under the brand name KDFC) and the simultaneous Consent Decree against both University of San Francisco and the purchaser, Classical Public Radio Network. In its order the FCC writes,

Upon review of the Hudacko AFR, the Friends AFR, and the entire record, we conclude that Hudacko and Friends have failed to demonstrate that the Bureau erred. We find that there is no substantial and material question of fact concerning statutory or rule violations, including violations of 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.17, 73.503 and 73.1125, which have been resolved in the Consent Decree. We further find that the Bureau’s settlement of the violations admitted in the Consent Decree represented an appropriate exercise of the agency’s broad discretion to settle enforcement actions. Finally, we uphold the Bureau’s determinations in the Bureau Letter and grant of the Application.”

In addressing some of the main arguments presented in the Applications for Review by Friends of KUSF and Ted Hudacko, the FCC argues that neither Application for Review built a case that a premature transfer of control of the station happened nor that there were violations of the main studio rule. Regarding the premature transfer of control, the FCC writes, “We find that Hudacko and Friends failed to present a substantial and material question of fact on this issue. Neither party cites any Commission precedent or authority to indicate that the PSOA [Public Service Operating Agreement], either on its face or as effectuated, violated the Commission’s policies on licensee control.”

In reference to the allegations about main studio rule violations (it was argued that USF no longer could originate programming from its campus, which USF officials denied), the FCC found that, “…there was no substantial and material question of fact on this issue.”

In response to allegations about 3rd party fundraising occurring over KUSF under CPRN’s watch, the FCC writes,

Friends argues that CPRN engaged in fund-raising for the Station by airing programming that solicited donations for CPRN’s existing station, KDFC(FM), “in violation of Section 73.503(c)’s express prohibition against third-party fundraising over NCE airwaves.” However, Section 73.503(c) does not address third-party fundraising. Rather, it prohibits payments to the licensee in excess of expenses in return for airing programming on an NCE station. Section 73.503(c) is the provision that USF and CPRN admitted violating in the Consent Decree. Accordingly, we reject this allegation.”
Meanwhile, students at University of San Francisco have been continuing the college radio tradition on campus with the online station KUSF.org, which launched in October, 2012. Another online station, KUSF-in-Exile, was launched during the early days of the fight to save KUSF-FM, back in 2011. The off-campus station has morphed and today San Francisco Community Radio (read about my January, 2015 visit), is made up of many former KUSF DJs and is in the running for a new low power FM license in San Francisco and is still awaiting word from the FCC.

 


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One Response to FCC Denies Applications for Review Related to Sale of College Radio Station KUSF’s License

  1. Jerry Drawhorn September 17, 2015 at 6:43 pm #

    Bizarre….so they are disregarding the argument because the complainants cited the wrong provision of the FCC Regulations????

    “In response to allegations about 3rd party fundraising occurring over KUSF under CPRN’s watch, the FCC writes,

    “Friends argues that CPRN engaged in fund-raising for the Station by airing programming that solicited donations for CPRN’s existing station, KDFC(FM), “in violation of Section 73.503(c)’s express prohibition against third-party fundraising over NCE airwaves.” However, Section 73.503(c) does not address third-party fundraising. Rather, it prohibits payments to the licensee in excess of expenses in return for airing programming on an NCE station. Section 73.503(c) is the provision that USF and CPRN admitted violating in the Consent Decree. Accordingly, we reject this allegation.”

    Friends apparently gave the wrong clause letter for their complaint it’s not 75.503 [c] but 75.503 [d].

    “(d) Each station shall furnish a non-profit and noncommercial broadcast service. Noncommercial educational FM broadcast stations are subject to the provisions of §73.1212 to the extent they are applicable to the broadcast of programs produced by, or at the expense of, or furnished by others. No promotional announcement on behalf of for profit entities shall be broadcast at any time in exchange for the receipt, in whole or in part, of consideration to the licensee, its principals, or employees. However, acknowledgements of contributions can be made. The scheduling of any announcements and acknowledgements may not interrupt reg- ular programming.”

    This seems to be an officious and obsessively hairsplitting rationale for rejecting the argument. The FCC lawyers certainly were aware that the correct provision being referred to was the one following the clause accidentally cited.

    This latter clause was the Foundation for Ohio State Univ., 62 FCC 2d at 450 (quoting Noncommercial Educational Stations, 26 FCC 2d 339, 343, ¶¶ 18-19 (1970)).

    “we adhere to our view that broadcast of such matter is inconsistent with the noncommercial nature of educational broadcasting. Furthermore, we believe that the devotion of programming time to raising money by on-the-air auctions for charitable or other organizations does not serve the purposes for which noncommercial educational broadcasting was established….Simply put, noncommercial educational broadcasting is the wrong vehicle for general fund-raising by auctions and the only reason an exception is made on behalf of licensees is to aid in their efforts to provide the programming which they were licensed to broadcast.” See also Commission Policy Concerning the Noncommercial Nature of Educational Broadcast Stations,
    First Report and Order, 69 FCC 2d 200, 226 ¶ 52 (1978)

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