Connoisseur Media won the right to construct a new FM station on 107.7 MHz in Pacific Junction IA all the way back in 2004 in Auction No. 37 – and that town’s proximity to the Omaha NE-Council Bluffs IA market no doubt contributed to a hefty price tag. However, the station soon came into conflict with spectrum needs of the United States Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration. The FCC was forced to delete the channel, and Connoisseur asked for a refund, and a little extra.
Generally, the FCC does not assist CP winners that run into engineering or other difficulties. It makes a point of instructing interested parties to do careful due diligence before determining how much they are willing to spend on a given allotment, and to the availability of all elements needed to get the station constructed.
However, the FCC agreed that the case of Connoisseur’s $4,397,250 CP was exceptional. Both the FAA and USAF were concerned about interference with localizer frequencies they use for air traffic control related to Eppley Airfield and Offutt AFB.
Diligent attempts on the part of Connoisseur to come up with an alternative for the CP all came up fallow, including attempts to work out solutions with local broadcasters that might have allowed them to shoehorn a station in.
Connoisseur requested a refund of its winning bid, and the FCC said that it agreed that the circumstances this time warranted one.
That was as far as the FCC would go, however. Connoisseur wanted more – interest, and payment for expenses incurred attempting to fix an unfixable situation. The FCC simply said it did not have the legal authority to honor that request.
RBR-TVBR observation: We are certainly glad that the FCC did not force Connoisseur to swallow this massive expense that went for nothing through no fault of its own. But we can’t help wondering why private citizens do not get to use the FCC rationale for not making certain payments. If someone calls us asking for a payment, we’d like to be able to say, “Sorry, but we’ve scoured the law books, and nowhere in there do we see anything granting us the legal right to pay that bill.”