When a company decides to purchase a radio station, the station's technical plant is often overlooked by the buyer.
The Georgia Association of Broadcasters published an article last year entitled Technical Concerns upon a Station Transfer
highlighting this concern. Written by Daniel Davis of D-Squared
Broadcasting Technologies, the article provides a useful checklist of
technical items to be reviewed prior to a station acquisition. Here are
Retain an independent consulting or contract engineer to inspect the
station's paperwork, unless you have a full-time engineer on staff.
Those include the station's main FCC license, as well as those for
licensed microwave STLs and remote pick-up units.
Once you have those materials, the station engineer and counsel
should confirm that the licenses accurately describe the station's
facilities as constructed. For example, check the geographic
coordinates of the station's tower. Incorrect coordinates may have been
entered in the Commission's records when the tower was first
authorized, or possibly when it was registered.
Confirm that all the station's auxiliary authorizations are
accurately associated with the main station authorization in the FCC's
records. Because auxiliary licenses not associated with a broadcast
call sign do not renew automatically with the parent station and may
have expired, confirm that all the auxiliaries are still in good
Find out if there are any outstanding construction permits to modify
the station. Check the expiration dates of the permits, as well as the
state of construction. If construction has been delayed, find out why.
And if construction has been completed, make sure that a covering
license application has been filed. Determine if the station is
operating pursuant to any special temporary authority; if so, find out
why and how long the STA will be needed. Tower lighting and
registrations also should be checked.
When towers are sold, the new owners are required to update the
tower registration to reflect the new ownership.
The seller may possess engineering reports that may not be available
at the FCC. Such reports should be transferred along with the station's
assets. These might include proof-of-performance measurements, copies
of related engineering studies, coverage maps and, for AM stations, the
most recent antenna resistance measurement report. Buyers should make
certain that the original technical manuals for broadcast equipment,
are available with factory-test data for the specific transmitter for
Inspect the station's physical plant, including the studio
facilities. Make a list of the essential equipment, check the
performance of the equipment and test the station's signal.
Check for RF exposure compliance, for asbestos in the studio
building and for underground fuel tanks anywhere on the property being
acquired or leased. You will have to certify to environmental
compliance at renewal time.
For stations using telephone access remote-control systems, the
buyer should request copies of the program code list or completed
programming worksheets for the system. After closing, user and security
codes for the system should be changed to prevent former employees from
accessing the system.
The seller will provide an inventory of all equipment, fixtures and
furnishings being conveyed with the station. Compare that with the list
compiled by your engineer. If possible, the contract should warrant the
performance of the equipment and declare that the seller has title to
all property. The contract should also specifically disclose any
excluded items that may belong to station personnel or that do not
convey with the station.
Review tower use rights. If the tower is leased, is the lease agreement assignable and under what terms? Are there other tenants on
the tower who could create interference for the station? What are your
rights under the lease? Has the seller been leasing space to other
tenants? If so, make sure those leases are assigned to you.
Renewal applications are due Aug. 1 for radio stations in North
Carolina and South Carolina. Stations in the following states,
commonwealths and territories must file their biennial ownership
reports with the FCC, and place their annual EEO reports in their
public files and on their websites, by Aug. 1: North Carolina, South
Carolina, Florida, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Iowa, Missouri, Alaska,
Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam and the Mariana Islands.
Martin is an attorney with Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, PLC.,
Arlington, VA. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.