[Federal Register Volume 65, Number 250 (Thursday, December 28, 2000)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 82305-82310]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 00-33209]


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FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Part 73

[MM Docket No. 00-244; FCC 00-427]


Broadcast Services; Radio Stations, Television Stations

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Proposed rule.

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SUMMARY: This document proposes to revise the Commission's 
methodologies for defining radio markets, counting the number of 
stations in a radio market, and determining the number of stations that 
a party owns in a radio market for the purposes of determining 
compliance with its multiple ownership rules. Experience in applying 
those methodologies since the enactment of the Telecommunications Act 
of 1996, has indicated that the Commission's current framework may be 
having results that may frustrate the structure of the 
Telecommunications Act and that are not in the public interest.

DATES: Comments are due by January 26, 2001; reply comments are due by 
February 12, 2001.

ADDRESSES: Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, SW., 
Washington, DC 20554

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Roger Holberg, Mass Media Bureau, 
Policy and Rules Division, (202) 418-2134 or Dan Bring, Mass Media 
Bureau, Policy and Rules Division, (202) 418-2170.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a synopsis of the Notice of Proposed 
Rule Making (``NPRM'') in MM Docket No. 00-244, FCC 00-427, adopted 
December 6, 2000, and released December 13, 2000. The complete text of 
this NPRM is available for inspection and copying during normal 
business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Room CY-A257, 445 12th 
Street, SW., Washington, DC and may also be purchased from the 
Commission's copy contractor, International Transcription Service 
(202)857-3800, 445 12th Street, SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC. The 
NPRM is also available on the Internet at the Commission's website: 
http://www.fcc.gov.

Synopsis of Notice of Proposed Rule Making

    1. We are adopting this NPRM to seek comment on whether and how we 
should modify the way in which we determine the dimensions of radio 
markets and count the number of stations in them. We are also seeking 
comment on whether and how we should amend the method by which we 
determine the number of radio stations owned by a party in a radio 
market for the purpose of applying our multiple ownership rules.

Overview

    2. In 1991, we commenced a proceeding to relax our local and 
national radio ownership rules. We ultimately established two market 
sizes that would determine the number of radio stations in which an 
entity could have an attributable interest in a local area. One tier 
included markets with 15 or more commercial radio stations. The other 
market tier consisted of markets with fewer than 15 stations. A party 
could have attributable interests in a different number of stations 
depending on the tier into which its market fell. This decision 
required that we establish both how we would define a market and, 
because of the different treatment of markets with less than 15 
stations and those with 15 or more, how we would count the number of 
stations in a market. We determined that:

we will define the radio market as that area encompassed by the 
principal community contours (i.e., predicted or measured 5 mV/m for 
AM stations and predicted 3.16 mV/m for FM stations) of the mutually 
overlapping stations proposing to have common ownership.

With regard to how we would count the number of stations in a market, 
we stated:

[t]he number of stations in the market will be determined based on 
the principal community contours of all commercial stations whose 
principal community contours overlap or intersect the principal

[[Page 82306]]

community contours of the commonly-owned stations.

In section 202(b)(1) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Public Law 
104-104, 110 Stat. 56 (1996) (``1996 Act''), Congress directed the 
Commission to increase the number of stations in a market in which a 
party could have a cognizable ownership interest, providing that in the 
largest markets a single entity could own up to eight stations. The 
number of stations in which it could have such an interest would depend 
upon the number of commercial stations in the market. Our methods of 
defining a radio market and determining the number of stations in a 
market, however, were not altered by the 1996 Act or by our Orders 
implementing that statute.
    3. Using this methodology, we evaluate whether a proposed 
transaction complies with our ownership rules by first determining the 
boundaries of each market created by the transaction. Thus, we look to 
all stations that will be commonly owned after the proposed transaction 
is consummated and group these stations into ``markets'' based on which 
stations have mutually overlapping signal contours. A market is defined 
as the area within the combined contours of the stations to be commonly 
owned that have a common overlap. For example, suppose an applicant 
proposes to own stations A, B, C and D. The contours of stations A, B 
and C each overlap the contours of the other two stations--that is, 
there is some area which the contours of all three stations have in 
common. Station D, on the other hand, overlaps the principal community 
contour of station A, but not those of stations B or C. Under our 
current definitions, the area encompassed by the combined contours of 
stations A, B and C form one ``market'' and the area within the 
combined contours of stations A and D form another market.
    4. To determine the total number of stations ``in the market,'' as 
defined above, we count all stations whose principal community contours 
overlap the principal community contour of any one or more of the 
stations whose contours define the market. Thus, in the market formed 
by the contours of stations A, B and C, any station whose contour 
overlapped the contour of A, B or C would be counted as ``in the 
market.'' We use a different methodology, however, to determine the 
number of stations that any single entity is deemed to own in a given 
market. For this purpose, we only count those stations whose principal 
community contours overlap the common overlap area of all of the 
stations whose contours define the market. Thus, a station owned by the 
applicant that is counted as being ``in the market'' because its 
contour overlaps the contour of at least one of the stations that 
create the market will not be counted as a station owned by the 
applicant in the market unless its contour overlaps the area which the 
contours of all of the stations that define the market have in common. 
Referring to our example of the market formed by the contours of 
stations A, B and C, station D would be counted as ``in the market'' 
because its contour overlaps the contour of station A. But, station D 
would not be counted as a station owned by the applicant in the ABC 
market because station D's contour does not also overlap the contours 
of stations B and C. In short, the applicant's ownership of station D 
would not be counted against it in determining compliance with the 
ownership cap in the ABC market.
    5. Our experience has led us to conclude that this framework may be 
having results that may frustrate the structure of the statute and that 
are not in the public interest. For example, under the existing 
policies and rules, the Commission's Mass Media Bureau recently 
determined that Wichita, KS, is a market containing 52 stations and 
granted the assignment application for station KOEZ(FM) from Kansas 
Radio Assets to Journal Broadcasting Corporation, giving Journal six 
stations, including 5 FM stations, in the Wichita market. This is well 
within the eight stations that a single owner would be permitted to own 
in a market with more than 45 stations under our rules implementing the 
1996 Act. Yet Arbitron, which defines radio markets for commercial 
purposes, classifies Wichita as a 24-station market in which, under 
these rules, a single entity could only have an interest in six radio 
stations, no more than 4 of which could be in the same service. 
Similarly, under the existing policies and rules, BIA data show that 
one party seeks to own nine stations in Youngstown, OH. (Appendix B 
describes how our radio definitions and counting methodologies may be 
applied in Youngstown.) Yet Arbitron data show only 23 commercial radio 
stations in the Youngstown metropolitan area. In another transaction, 
using the Commission's methodology, an applicant was able to show that 
Ithaca, NY, was a market with at least 32 commercial radio stations. 
Yet Arbitron data show only 9 commercial radio stations in the Ithaca 
metropolitan area.
    6. Given such results, we question whether the use of overlapping 
signal contours is an appropriate means of defining market boundaries 
and counting the number of stations in a market. Our methodology 
sometimes leads to results that are completely at odds with commercial 
market definitions and economic reality, and may undermine the 
structure of the statute to allow levels of ownership that increase 
commensurately with the size of the market. Additionally, our 
methodology may encourage applicants to structure transactions to 
fragment what are commercially considered single markets into a number 
of smaller markets. While a licensee may be within our ownership limit 
as to each of these fragmented markets, in the aggregate it owns more 
stations than our rules would permit were these markets considered to 
be a single market, as they are by commercial rating services and would 
be under any economically meaningful market definition.
    7. The Commission has used this methodology for defining markets 
and counting stations in markets since 1992. While the methodology has 
produced some odd results since its inception, it was not until the 
ownership limits were substantially increased in 1996 that the 
methodology's potential to cause results at odds with economic reality 
became clearly discernible. Until then, the number of problems and 
their impact were constrained, by the more modest numerical ownership 
limits and by a 25 percent audience share cap in markets with 15 or 
more stations.
    8. Another problem with this methodology was highlighted in the 
Commission's recent Pine Bluff decision. (In re Application of Pine 
Bluff Radio, Inc., 14 FCC Rcd 6594 (1999).) In that case, Seark Radio, 
Inc., sought to purchase one AM and two FM stations in Pine Bluff, 
Arkansas. Seark already had direct or attributable interests in three 
other stations in Pine Bluff and environs. A petitioner (Bayou 
Broadcasting, Inc.) filed a Petition to Deny claiming, in part, that 
the relevant market contained 11 stations and that grant of the subject 
application would give Seark direct or attributable interests in 6 of 
those stations. Were this the case, it would have caused Seark to 
exceed the ``cap'' that one party can have in an 11-station market 
because it would give it interests in more than 5 of the stations in 
the market. In a decision which we recently affirmed on review, the 
Mass Media Bureau determined that, under the Commission's method for 
defining markets and counting the number of stations in a market, the 
stations involved actually formed three separate markets. Market 3 was 
formed by two mutually overlapping stations attributable to Seark. Two 
other stations

[[Page 82307]]

were determined to contribute to this market. One of those two stations 
was owned by Seark. However, because this station's principal community 
contour did not overlap the principal community contours of both of the 
stations whose overlapping principal community contours established the 
market, it was not counted as an attributable interest of Seark's in 
this market. Thus, application of our existing methodologies led to the 
determination that this Seark station would be counted as being ``in 
the market'' for purposes of determining the base number of stations in 
that market. But, the same station would not be considered to be ``in 
the market'' for the purposes of determining how many stations in the 
market were and would be owned by Seark, and thus whether Seark 
complied with the numerical station caps. Seark could not have owned 
three stations in this market because that would have given it an 
attributable interest in more than half of the four stations considered 
to be in Market 3. Section 73.3555(a)(1)(iv) allows a party to own, 
operate, or control up to 5 commercial stations in markets with 14 or 
fewer stations provided that ``a party may not own, operate, or control 
more than 50 percent of the stations in such market.'' Accordingly, 
strict compliance with our precedents in this area led to the 
conclusion that Seark had an attributable interest in only two of the 
four stations in this market, notwithstanding its attributable interest 
in a third station which counted as a station in the market for the 
purpose of determining the total number of stations in the market. (We 
recognized that this appeared to be an anomalous result but pointed out 
that it was produced by methodology that had been consistently used 
since 1992 and that subsequent events in the market had rendered 
harmless the impact of this anomaly in that case.)

Options

    9. Several options or approaches present themselves as possible 
means of addressing the definitional issues raised in the preceding 
discussion. With respect to the counting consistency issue exemplified 
by the Pine Bluff case, the most direct solution might be simply to 
alter our counting methodology and count against an applicant's 
ownership allowance in a given market any station that it owned and 
that was included in determining how many stations were ``in the 
market'' for purposes of assessing compliance with the local radio 
ownership rules. Under this proposed approach, the applicant in the 
Pine Bluff case would have been charged with ownership of three 
stations in a four-station market, rather than two, and the transaction 
would not have complied with the numerical limits in our rules. This 
would clearly and logically resolve the inconsistency in our present 
approach and produce more rational results. Moreover, this approach may 
better reflect the statute's structure, and lend consistency and 
predictability to the commercial marketplace. We invite comment on this 
approach. Alternatively, we could exclude from the count of the number 
of stations in a market, any stations owned by the applicant, except 
the commonly owned stations that form the market. We seek comment on 
this approach.
    10. Another, broader approach might address both the counting 
anomaly and the discontinuity between the Commission's and commercial 
rating services' definition of radio markets generally. Under this 
approach, we would eliminate our current market definition and, 
instead, rely on commercially determined market definitions. For 
example, we could adopt Arbitron radio metro market definitions and 
simply rely on these commercial delineations to determine the total 
number of stations in any given market and how many stations an 
applicant would control in that market. Arbitron-defined markets have 
the advantage that they attempt to reflect accurately the location of a 
station's listeners and the identity of stations that are actually 
perceived by advertisers to be in a market. Additionally, the 
Department of Justice utilizes Arbitron markets in its competition 
analysis of radio station mergers. However, the use of Arbitron markets 
has the disadvantage that many radio stations are not in an Arbitron 
market. Out of 3100 counties in the United States, slightly less than 
850 (containing, however, nearly 80 percent of the nation's population) 
are in Arbitron markets. Arbitron defines a geographic area based on 
county lines. We recognize that Arbitron metros do not encompass all 
the counties that can receive some of the radio signals of the metro 
radio stations. However, the radio stations included in the Arbitron 
metro do a significant portion of their business in the counties that 
are included in the Arbitron metro.
    11. In our 1992 decision (on reconsideration) concerning radio 
markets we decided not to utilize Arbitron markets to define radio 
markets. The Commission accepted petitioners' arguments that Arbitron 
markets change regularly, the number of rated stations continually 
fluctuate and that Arbitron tends to undercount the number of stations 
in a market because it has minimum reporting standards or overcount 
them because it counts out-of-market stations with reportable shares in 
the market. See Memorandum Opinion and Order and Further Notice of 
Proposed Rule Making in MM Docket No. 91-140, supra at 6394-95, 57 FR 
42701 (September 16, 1972). We do not believe these to be 
insurmountable problems and, for the reasons discussed above, we 
believe the use of Arbitron markets or equivalent commercial markets 
may result in more accurate measures of the number of stations in a 
market than do our current methodologies.
    12. We seek comment on whether we should use Arbitron or other 
commercially defined markets. How should we determine the dimensions of 
a market when the stations involved are not located in a commercially 
defined market? If we use Arbitron or another commercially defined 
market, what should we do when a market changes? For example, 
population growth might result in a county that was in a single market 
to later be split between two markets. This could cause the number of 
stations in the market to drop, placing some existing ownership 
combinations above the local ownership limits. One approach to such 
changes would be to disregard them (effectively grandfathering existing 
combinations) until such time as a relevant application is filed, at 
which point we would apply the market definitions in effect at the time 
of the application's filing or grant. We seek comment on these and on 
alternative proposals.
    13. Alternatively, should we determine the number of stations in a 
market using a different contour overlap standard? For example, we 
could count as being in a market only those stations whose principal 
community contours overlap or intersect the overlap area of the 
principal city contours of the stations whose ownership is to be 
merged. This might provide a superior gauge relative to the area with 
which we are most concerned in merger situations with respect to both 
competition and diversity. However, this standard might be too 
restrictive and thus inappropriately thwart the relaxation of the 
ownership rules that the 1996 Act contemplated. Is there some other 
overlap standard that might more accurately provide a count of the 
number of stations in a market? Perhaps counting only those stations 
that overlap a certain percentage of the contour of one or more of the 
mutually overlapping stations would provide

[[Page 82308]]

accurate results. What percentage would be appropriate? Another option 
would be simply to count only those stations that are actually heard in 
a market. What methodology should we use in the event we adopt this 
option? We invite comment on all of these alternatives.

Procedural Matters

    14. We do not propose that any rules and policies we adopt herein 
should be applied retroactively to existing ownership combinations. 
Those ownership arrangements were granted as being in the public 
interest and in accordance with applicable Commission rules and 
policies. There is no reason to disturb these ownership combinations.
    15. Merger applications now pending or filed after the adoption of 
this NPRM but before our final decision in this proceeding present 
another case. As a general matter, we will continue to process 
applications under the existing standards, unless and until they are 
changed in this proceeding. In cases raising concerns about how we 
count the number of stations a party owns in a market, however, we will 
defer decision pending resolution of that issue in this proceeding. As 
we concluded in the 1998 Biennial Review Report, the ``shifting market 
definition'' in our counting methodology ``appears illogical and 
contrary to Congress' intent.'' Given this conclusion, it would be 
inappropriate to continue to apply this standard to pending and newly 
filed applications. We believe that the harm caused by application of 
this standard outweighs any harm caused by the deferment of decision on 
these applications. We intend to act expeditiously in this proceeding 
to ensure that any such deferments are few in number and short in 
duration.

Administrative Matters

    16. Comments and Reply Comments. Pursuant to 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, 
interested parties may file comments on before January 26, 2001, and 
reply comments on or before February 12, 2001. Comments may be filed 
using the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) or by 
filing paper copies. See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking 
Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
    17. Comments filed through the ECFS can be sent as an electronic 
file via the Internet to http://www.fcc.gov/e-file/ecfs.html>. 
Generally, only one copy of an electronic submission must be filed. If 
multiple docket or rulemaking numbers appear in the caption of this 
proceeding, however, commenters must transmit one electronic copy of 
the comments to each docket or rulemaking number referenced in the 
caption. In completing the transmittal screen, commenters should 
include their full name, Postal Service mailing address, and the 
applicable docket or rulemaking number. Parties may also submit an 
electronic comment by Internet e-mail. To get filing instructions for 
e-mail comments, commenters should send an e-mail to ecfs@fcc.gov, and 
should include the following words in the body of the message, ``get 
form your e-mail address.'' A sample form and directions will be sent 
in reply. Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and 
four copies of each filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking 
number appear in the caption of this proceeding, commenters must submit 
two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number. 
All filings must be sent to the Commission's Secretary, Magalie Roman 
Salas, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, 445 
Twelfth Street, SW., TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554.
    18. Parties who choose to file by paper should also submit their 
comments on diskette. These diskettes should be submitted to: Wanda 
Hardy, 445 Twelfth Street, SW., Room, 2-C207, Washington, DC 20554. 
Such a submission should be on a 3.5 inch diskette formatted in an IBM 
compatible format using MS Word 97 for Windows or compatible software. 
The diskette should be accompanied by a cover letter and should be 
submitted in ``read only'' mode. The diskette should be clearly labeled 
with the commenter's name, proceeding (including the docket number in 
this case, MM Docket No. 00-244, type of pleading (comment or reply 
comment), date of submission, and the name of the electronic file on 
the diskette. The label should also include the following phrase ``Disk 
Copy--Not an Original.'' Each diskette should contain only one party's 
pleadings, preferably in a single electronic file. In addition, 
commenters must send diskette copies to the Commission's copy 
contractor, International Transcription Service, Inc., 445 Twelfth 
Street, SW., CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554.
    19. Comments and reply comments will be available for public 
inspection during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, 
Federal Communications Commission, 445 Twelfth Street, SW., CY-A257, 
Washington, DC 20554. Persons with disabilities who need assistance in 
the FCC Reference Center may contact Bill Cline at (202) 418-0270, 
(202) 418-2555 TTY, or bcline@fcc.gov. Comments and reply comments also 
will be available electronically at the Commission's Disabilities 
Issues Task Force web site: http://www.fcc.gov/dtf. Comments and reply 
comments are available electronically in ASCII text, Word 97, and Adobe 
Acrobat.
    20. This document is available in alternative formats (computer 
diskette, large print, audio cassette, and Braille). Persons who need 
documents in such formats may contact Martha Contee at (202) 4810-0260, 
TTY (202) 418-2555, or mcontee@fcc.gov.
    21. Ex Parte Rules. This is a permit-but-disclose notice and 
comment rulemaking proceeding. Ex parte presentations are permitted 
except during the Sunshine Agenda period, provided they are disclosed 
as provided in the Commission's Rules. See generally 47 CFR 1.1202, 
1.1203, and 1.1206(a).
    22. Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis. As required by Section 
603 of the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the Commission has prepared the 
following IRFA of the possible significant economic impact on small 
entities of the proposals contained in this NPRM. Written public 
comments are requested on the IRFA. In order to fulfill the mandate of 
the Contract with America Advancement Act of 1996 regarding the Final 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, we ask a number of questions in our 
IRFA regarding the prevalence of small businesses in the radio 
broadcasting industry. Comments on the IRFA must be filed in accordance 
with the same filing deadlines as comments on the NPRM, but they must 
have a distinct heading designating them as responses to the IRFA.
    23. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), the 
Commission has prepared this present Initial Regulatory Flexibility 
Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on small 
entities by the policies and rules proposed in this NPRM. Written 
public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified 
as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for 
comments on the NPRM provided above in paragraph 16. The Commission 
will send a copy of the NPRM, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel 
for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration (SBA). See 5 U.S.C. 
603(a). In addition, the NPRM and the IRFA (or summaries thereof) will 
be published in the Federal Register.

A. Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rules

    24. Section 202(h) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (1996 Act) 
requires the Commission to review all of its broadcast ownership rules

[[Page 82309]]

every two years commencing in 1998, and to determine whether any of 
these rules are necessary in the public interest as the result of 
competition. The 1996 Act also requires the Commission to repeal or 
modify any regulation it determines to be no longer in the public 
interest. The Commission adopted a Notice of Inquiry (63 FR 15353, 
March 31, 1998) in 1998 in compliance with this requirement. The 
Commission believes that its present method of determining the 
dimensions of radio markets and/or of counting the stations available 
in those markets may be having results that do not reflect the 
structure of the Telecommunications Act with regard to local radio 
station ownership and are not in the public interest. Present 
methodology may result in radio markets whose dimensions do not reflect 
actual listening patterns or availability, artificially enhance the 
number of stations in those markets or artificially fragment what may 
be single individual markets into several independent smaller markets, 
thereby allowing a single owner to own a number of stations in a market 
in excess of what Congress intended. Our methodology sometimes leads to 
results that are completely at odds with commercial market definitions 
and economic reality, and thus does not advance the statutes structure 
which allows levels of ownership that increase commensurately with the 
size of the market. Additionally, the Commission determined in its 
biennial review proceeding (MM Docket No. 98-35) that it appears that 
the way in which it determines the number of radio stations that a 
party owns in a market may have lead to unintended results. This NPRM 
is designed to solicit comment on proposals to assure that our 
definitions and methodologies more closely reflect commercial realities 
and the intent of Congress. Because Section 202(h) of the 1996 Act 
directs the Commission to repeal or modify any broadcast ownership 
regulation it finds no longer in the public interest the Commission has 
adopted this NPRM to solicit comment on the modification of the subject 
policies and rules.

B. Legal Basis

    25. This NPRM is adopted pursuant to sections 1, 2(a), 4(i), 303, 
307, 309, 310, of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 
151, 152(a), 154(i), 303, 307, 309, 310, and Section 202(h) of the 
Telecommunications Act of 1996.

C. Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which 
the Proposed Rules Will Apply

    26. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and, 
where feasible, an estimate of the number of small entities that may be 
affected by the proposed rules, if adopted. The RFA defines the term 
``small entity'' as having the same meaning as the terms ``small 
business,'' ``small organization,'' and ``small governmental 
jurisdiction.'' In addition, the term ``small business'' has the same 
meaning as the term ``small business concern'' under the Small Business 
Act. A small business concern is one which: (1) Is independently owned 
and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) 
satisfies any additional criteria established by the SBA.
    27. The SBA defines a radio broadcasting station that has $5 
million or less in annual receipts as a small business. A radio 
broadcasting station is an establishment primarily engaged in 
broadcasting aural programs by radio to the public. Included in this 
industry are commercial, religious, educational, and other radio 
stations. The 1992 Census indicates that 96 percent of radio station 
establishments produced less than $5 million in revenue in 1992. 
Official Commission records indicate that 11,334 individual radio 
stations were operating in 1992. As of September 30, 2000, Commission 
records indicate that 12,717 radio stations (both commercial and 
noncommercial) were operating of which 2,140 were noncommercial 
educational FM radio stations. (Our multiple ownership rules, however, 
do not apply to noncommercial educational radio stations.) Applying the 
1992 percentage of station establishments producing less than $5 
million in revenue (i.e., 96 percent) to the number of commercial radio 
stations in operation, (i.e., 10,577) indicates that 10,154 of these 
radio stations would be considered ``small businesses'' or ``small 
organizations.''

D. Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other 
Compliance Requirements

    28. There currently are no recordkeeping or other compliance 
requirements associated with the subject rule and policies. The NPRM 
proposes no new recordkeeping or other compliance requirements.

E. Steps Taken To Minimize Significant Impact on Small Entities, and 
Significant Alternatives Considered

    29. The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant 
alternatives that it has considered in reaching its proposed approach, 
which may include the following four alternatives (among others): (1) 
The establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or 
timetables that take into account the resources available to small 
entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of 
compliance or reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; 
(3) the use of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an 
exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small 
entities.
    30. In fashioning its Report in the Commission's Biennial Review 
Proceeding (MM Docket No. 98-35) the Commission considered a number of 
alternatives to the subject counting methodology policy. These 
alternatives were: (1) Retention of the existing radio market 
definition policy; (2) modification of the existing radio market 
definition policy; (3) retention of the existing rule (47 CFR 
73.3555(a)(3)(ii)) concerning counting the number of stations in the 
radio market; (4) modification of the existing rule concerning counting 
the number of stations in the radio market; (5) retention of the 
existing policy for counting the number of stations a party owns in a 
radio market; and (6) modification of the existing policy for counting 
the number of stations a party owns in a radio market. The Biennial 
Review Report tentatively concluded that the existing policy for 
determining radio markets and counting methodology rule and policy 
should be modified. An alternative considered in this item is to 
maintain the status quo. However, the NPRM does propose to modify the 
current method of defining radio markets and to modify our station-
counting methodologies. Alternatives (2), (4), and (6) may have a 
beneficial effect on small entities. A more accurate and predictable 
definition of radio markets, and improved counting methodologies may 
more precisely determine the size of markets and the number of stations 
in them and allow the Commission to achieve the results intended by 
Congress in passing the 1996 Act. This could result in some small radio 
stations facing competition from commonly owned local station groups 
that are more of the size Congress intended than is the case under 
current Commission rules and policies. Any significant alternatives 
presented in the comments received in response to the instant NPRM will 
certainly be considered.

[[Page 82310]]

F. Federal Rules That May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the 
Proposed Rules

    31. None.
    32. Authority. This NPRM is issued pursuant to authority contained 
in sections 4(i), 303, and 307 of the Communications Act of 1934, as 
amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 303, and 307, and Section 202(h) of the 
Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Ordering Clauses

    33. Pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1, 2(a), 4(i), 
303, 307, 309, and 310 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 
47 U.S.C. 151, 152(a), 154(i), 303, 307, 309, and 310, and Section 
202(h) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, this NPRM is adopted.
    34. The Commission's Consumer Information Bureau, Reference 
Information Center, shall send a copy of this NPRM, including the 
Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for 
Advocacy of the Small Business Administration.

    Federal Communications Commission.
Shirley Suggs,
Chief, Publications Group.
[FR Doc. 00-33209 Filed 12-27-00; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 6712-01-U