Court Reverses FCC Denial of Station License Reallocation to New Jersey, Delaware

Says Move Squares with Intent of Law That Each State Have at Least One VHF Station if Possible
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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has told the FCC to allow the reallocation of two station licenses from Nevada and Wyoming to New Jersey and Delaware, saying the move squares with the intent of a law that each state have at least one VHF station, if it is technically feasible.

The FCC in September 2011 upheld a 2009 Media Bureau decision denying the move of TV station channel licenses from Wyoming and Nevada to New Jersey and Delaware, which at the time of the initial request did not have VHF stations. When PMCM TV, owner of KJWY-TV Jackson (Wyo.), and KVNV-TV Ely (Nev.), filed for the move, New Jersey and Delaware were the only states without a VHF station. That was after WOR-TV Secaucus went digital and moved to a UHF channel.

The stations asked to be "reallocated" across the country, but the FCC concluded that "reallocation" meant moving stations from one community to another because they were interfering with a nearby station on the same channel.

The court disagreed, and on Friday threw out that decision and told the FCC to approve the move. 

"The Commission denied the application, interpreting section 331(a) to require reallocations of channels only between neighboring locations," said the court. "Because the Commission's decision conflicts with the statute's text and purpose and because appellant can move its channels without creating signal interference, we reverse....given the Commission's concession that PMCM's proposal is technically feasible, we reverse and remand to the Commission with instructions to approve the reallocations."

An FCC spokesman was unavailable for comment.