With CBS Radio acquiring Merlin Media’s WRXP for its WFAN-FM simulcast, now the question is what happens to its New York stations? Speculation almost immediately had CBS forced to sell off one of its seven radio stations (with the WRXP completed deal) and two TV channels.
But not so fast.
CBS has filed an application with the FCC. CBS first addressed the Local Ownership Rule, stating:
“…The common ownership of eight radio stations, no more than five in the same service, is permitted in the New York Metro. Therefore, CBS’s acquisition of a controlling interest in WRXP complies fully with the FCC’s local radio ownership rule.”
There is also the Radio-Television Cross-Ownership Rule, under which CBS may have found its loophole.
“…The noise-limited DTV contour of WLNY-TV, whose transmitter is located in a distant corner of the New York Metro – on Long Island, some 50+ miles from the center of New York City – does not entirely encompass New York City, the city of license for all seven radio stations. Additionally, the relevant contours for all seven radio stations do not entirely encompass Riverhead, New York, the city of license for WLNY-TV.”
It’s a technicality, to be sure, as WLNY is available on satellite or cable throughout much of the tri-state area, and WLNY focuses on news stories from those regions. But it’s Washington’s fault, not CBS, as the CBS staffed and housed TV 10/55 is licensed to Riverhead. Therefore, WLNY falls out of the New York Metro area. And if the permit is accepted, it would allow CBS to keep its entire stable of New York stations without any sell off.