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KRON Tries to Block Move of Transmitter

Dec 1, 2003  •  Post A Comment

Young Broadcasting’s KRON-TV has asked the Federal Communications Commission to reject a request by NBC-owned KNTV in San Jose to move its transmitter 40 miles closer to San Francisco, KRON’s city of license.
NBC and Young Broadcasting have been at odds since 1999, when both companies were vying to acquire KRON, then an NBC affiliate, from Chronicle Publishing Co.
NBC lost the bidding for the station, even though it warned at the time that it might yank KRON’s affiliation with NBC.
At least according to Young, when the affiliation agreement expired, NBC presented the company with such an onerous renewal proposal that the affiliation was ended.
So NBC shifted the affiliation to KNTV in nearby San Jose, a station it acquired last year.
Now NBC is trying to move its transmitter north to San Bruno Mountain near Daly City to improve its coverage of the San Francisco market.
NBC has told the FCC that the move is needed to ensure that it can serve as many people as possible in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose designated market area.
“In particular, we very much want to complete construction by August next year to ensure that thousands have access to the 2004 Summer Olympics,” said Bill LeBeau, NBC senior regulatory counsel.
Many viewers in the area receive NBC by cable, but that still leaves a portion of the market without access to the network. According to Young Broadcasting, the transmitter shift would run afoul of a variety of the FCC’s technical regulations, and NBC has failed to make an adequate case for waivers.
“NBC’s public interest argument is reminiscent of the child who slew his parents and then asked the court for mercy on the basis that he was now an orphan,” Young Broadcasting said in a Nov. 21 filing at the FCC.
“NBC network coverage deficiencies in San Francisco are self-inflicted. All NBC had to do to maximize NBC network service in the DMA was to afford KRON an NBC affiliation on terms consistent with those afforded other comparable NBC affiliates in comparable markets,” the filing states. “It is hardly necessary for the commission to waive its rules and depart from its longstanding service requirements simply to shore up NBC’s coverage of the DMA and to paper over what, plainly, was a series of business decisions voluntarily made by NBC.”
Said NBC’s Mr. LeBeau in response, “We just want to serve as many people as we can with an NBC signal.”
Media buyers say KNTV can add to its over-the-air coverage with the antenna move to Daly City.
“It’s extremely critical to them,” said Zachary Rosenberg, executive VP, Western region, Horizon Media, Los Angeles. “There are nine counties in the area. They are only getting about four-about 50 percent to 60 percent. They want to be able to maximize the rates they can charge. San Bruno would be a significant improvement. Daly City is up the mountains.”
Local media-buying executives say KNTV can stand to gain in local advertising dollars and move up in pricing among San Francisco stations. Fox is the most expensive station in the market, according to executives, followed by ABC, NBC, CBS, The WB, UPN, and KRON, the independent in the market.