Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Roanoke Radio: 3 Daughters Media Appeals Petition To Deny

Roanoke radio company Mel Wheeler Inc. wants to buy a Lynchburg talk-radio station, but a rival company has filed an appeal with the Federal Communications Commission to try to block the deal.

Earlier this year, according to, Wheeler filed paperwork with the FCC to buy N/T WLNI 105.9 FM. WLNI is currently owned by Centennial Licensing LLC, based in Clemmons, N.C.

The sale was delayed, however, when the owner of 3 Daughters Media in Forest filed a challenge with the FCC.

Gary Burns
Gary Burns, president of 3 Daughters Media, contended in his Petition to Deny that if Wheeler bought WLNI, the company would exceed the number of FM stations it can own in the Roanoke-Lynchburg market under FCC rules. Burns said that if the sale were approved, it would “upset the competitive balance in the market.”

The FCC denied 3 Daughters Media’s petition in August, but Burns appealed that decision Friday.

One of Burns’ chief objections to the deal is that he believes the FCC has erred in its counting of radio stations in the Roanoke-Lynchburg market. According to FCC rules, if a market has 45 commercial and noncommercial radio stations, one company can own up to five FM stations in that market.

The FCC ruled in August that the Roanoke-Lynchburg market has exactly 45 stations, which would allow Mel Wheeler Inc. to acquire WLNI. Wheeler already owns four FM stations — K92 (WXLK-FM, 92.3), Star Country (WYYD-FM, 94.9), Q99 (WSLQ-FM, 99.1) and The Vibe (WVBE-FM, 100.1/97.7, 610 AM).
WLNI 105.9 FM 60dBu Coverage 
In his appeal, however, Burns said that the FCC has miscounted the stations in this market. He said the FCC is including at least one station that “is off the air and should not be counted.” That station, WODI-AM, is licensed to Brookneal and owned by a company with an address in the Virgin Islands.

Burns also contends in his appeal that Mel Wheeler Inc. is already at its ownership limit of five FM stations. Burns argues that the two FM frequencies for The Vibe should count as separate stations, which would put Wheeler at the five-station cap. However, one of those frequencies is licensed to Montgomery County, which the FCC does not include in the Roanoke-Lynchburg market.

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