FCC approves sale of Houston college FM


KTRU-FM is going from one college to another, but along the way, it will lose its Alternative format and shift over to Classical, paving the way for the buyer to provide news and information full time on KUHF-FM.

The station is going from William March Rice University to University of Houston System for $9.932M. $9.5M of that will be cash, and the remaining $432K is the value placed on an ongoing three-year student intern program to benefit attendees of Rice U.

The sale was highly controversial, eliciting protests and various charges of malfeasance.

Many of these charges made their way to the FCC in the form of petitions to deny and informal objections. Among the charges, per the FCC:

* the assignment will involve a format change that contradicts the Commission’s policies in favor of broadcast localism

* the assignment undermines the educational purpose of an NCE station and UHS’ proposed programming description is inadequate

* the assignment will result in a concentration of NCE FM licenses in the hands of UHS

* the negotiations between UHS and Rice violated the Texas Open Meetings Act

* the agreed purchase price is deflated and harms the public interest

The FCC noted that it issued a statement way back in 1976 to the effect that it did not serve the public interest to have the Commission nosing about into formats during transaction review.

Addressing some of the other issues, it said common ownership of two FMs is entirely legal, a public file violation, unless deliberate, was not grounds to stop a transaction; it has no authority of any kind over a matter pertaining to the Texas Open Meetings Act; nor was there a problem or remedy for any other complaints.

The deal is approved.