Press Communications has lost a judgment from the Washington D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals over its 2010 application seeking to relocate 99.7 WBHX Tuckerton NJ to 99.3.
Press sought to move WBHX (which current simulcasts Classic Rock “107.1 The Boss” WWZY Long Branch) to 99.3 while forcing Equity Communications Rhythmic CHR “99.3 The Buzz” WZBZ Pleasantville to 99.7. The shift of WZBZ would have been short-spaced to Atlantic City High School’s 88.9 WAJM Atlantic City, whose license at the time had lapsed failed to filing its renewal application on time. In 2015, the school entered into a Consent Decree with the FCC over multiple violations including filing its renewal application four years late, failing to maintain a Public File or Ownership Report, operating its antenna at variance with its licensed parameters, and agreeing to pay a $6250 civil penalty.
That Consent Decree led to the dismissal of Press’ application on the grounds that it would leave WZBZ short-spaced to WAJM and eliminating the grandfathered short-spacing WZBZ has to Beasley Media AC 99.5 WJBR Wilmington DE with no waiver applied for. Press argued in 2016 Application For Review that its application was viable because WAJM’s license had expired in 2006 for its failure to timely file its renewal application.
Press next took its case to the US Court of Appeals, whose ruling on Tuesday confirmed the FCC’s previous decisions on the basis that the short-spacing deficiencies were enough to support the FCC’s order before even going into the WAJM license renewal. Press would have needed both to be overturned in order for its application to be processed. In rejecting Press’s claims, the court’s ruling written by U.S. Circuit Judge Cornelia T.L. Pillard stated:
We uphold the FCC’s Order as valid based on the failure of Press’s proposed channel swap with Equity to comply with the applicable short spacing bar or establish its entitlement to a waiver of that bar. Because that defect suffices to support the Order, we do not reach Press’s challenge to the FCC’s license-renewal practices, which have in any event been superseded by the new policy.