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In Re Applications of WOIC, INC. For Renewal of License of Station WOIC, Columbia, S.C.


Docket No. 19674 File No. BR-1220




39 F.C.C.2d 355




February 1, 1973 Released


 Adopted January 23, 1973





 [*355]  1.  The Commission has before it for consideration: (1) the above-captioned license renewal application for Station WOIC, Columbia, South Carolina; (ii) an untimely petition to deny the aforenoted application; n1 and (iii) various responsive and related pleadings. 

n1 As required, the WOIC renewal application was filed ninety days prior to the expiration of the preceding license term.  See Rule 1.539(a).  Pursuant to Rule 1.580(i), a petition to deny WOIC's application should have been filed on or before November 1, 1969; however, the instant petition to deny was not submitted until December 1, 1969.  No adequate explanation for the delay is proffered by petitioner, nor is a waiver of Rule 1.580(i) requested.  See Report and Order (Docket No. 18495), concerning broadcast license renewal applications, 20 FCC 2d 191, 192-93, 16 RR 2d 1512, 1514 (1969). Accordingly, the instant petition to deny will be dismissed.  Due to the nature of the matters raised, however, we have elected to consider the petition on its merits as an informal objection filed pursuant to Rule 1.587.  See Universal Communications Corp., 27 FCC 2d 1022, 21 RR 2d 359 (1971).


2.  The instant renewal application reflects that WOIC, Inc., the licensee of standard broadcast Station WOIC, is wholly owned by Speidel Broadcasters, Inc., which also controls the corporate licensees of the following standard broadcast stations: WTMP, Tampa, Florida; WPAL, Charleston, South Carolina; WYNN, Florence, South Carolina; WSOK, Savannah, Georgia; and WHIH, Portsmouth, Virginia.  Policy control over all of the above stations, including WOIC, is formulated and exercised by the Speidel corporation's president and majority stockholder, Joe Speidel, III.  The operational, day-today direction of the stations, which are principally programmed and oriented to the licensee's concept of black audience needs, is exercised by local station personnel under the general supervision of Mr. Speidel and other Speidel corporate officials.  In December 1970, Mr. Speidel became the sole stockholder of Speidel Broadcasters, Inc.; thereafter, control of these stations' licensee corporations was transferred, with Commission approval, to Mr. Speidel as an individual.  Beginning in May of 1971, Speidel assigned, with Commission approval, the licenses  [*356]  for Stations WTMP, WPAL, WYNN, WSOK and WHIH to new corporate owners.  n2

n2 On September 5, 1972, the licensee, as required, submitted a renewal application covering the forthcoming triennial license period (December 1, 1972, through December 1, 1975) and published and broadcast the prescribed local notice of this filing.  While we could delay consideration of the 1972 renewal application until petitioner has had an opportunity to examine and comment thereon, the Commission believes that since a hearing is required in any event (see paragraphs 12 and 22, infra), the more appropriate procedure is to designate for hearing both renewal applications and require petitioner to raise any additional matters with respect to the 1972 application at the hearing.  See Rule 1.229.

3.  Petitioner, the Columbia Citizens Concerned with Improved Broadcasting (Columbia Citizens), is an association comprised of several local citizens who have joined together for the purpose of examining and improving the broadcast service to the black community of Columbia, South Carolina.  Many of the twelve identified members of Columbia Citizens are also officers or directors of a number of national and state-wide organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina, the South Carolina Council on Human Relations, Inc., and the American Friends Service Committee, which allegedly join petitioner in its request to deny the WOIC renewal application.  In the same vein, affidavits, expressing general support of petitioner's allegations, have been submitted from nineteen leaders of Columbia's black community, who "join themselves as parties to the Petition to Deny".


4.  Columbia Citizens predicates its request to deny the WOIC renewal application upon the station's alleged insensitivity to the needs and aspirations of blacks, its failure to inform, educate or serve as a means of self-expression for Columbia's black community, and its economic exploitation of that community.  Specifically, petitioner contends that the licensee discriminates against blacks in its employment practices; that Station WOIC has made no serious effort to ascertain the needs of the community's black residents; and that the station's program service, which is highly commercialized, is unresponsive to the needs of blacks and other groups in the WOIC service area and varies in significant respects from the programming proposal set forth by the licensee in its 1966 renewal application.  The petitioner further submits that the licensee has attempted to conceal its discriminatory practices and its deficient program service through the use of misleading and inaccurate job descriptions and program classifications.  In the same vein.  Columbia Citizens challenges Speidel's character qualifications, alleging improper conduct in the operation of his Tampa, Forida station, WTMP.  n3

n3 The Station WTMP matter was set forth by petitioner in a February, 1971 supplement to its petition to deny.  The licensee urges the rejection of the motion for leave to supplement and the tendered supplement, arguing that the allegations are both untimely raised and irrelevant to a resolution of the WOIC renewal application.  Since the matter relates to the character qualifications of the licensee's majority stockholder (Speidel now holds an 83.3% stock interest), the Commission will grant the late-filed motion and consider the Columbia Citizens petition as supplemented.  See Western North Carolina Broadcasters, Inc., 8 FCC 2d 126, 10 RR 2d 78 (1967).


5.  According to Columbia Citizens, all of the employees of Station WOIC who exercise actual control of station policy and operation are  [*357]  white, whereas blacks, who comprise a majority of the station's personnel, are neither permitted to participate in significant policy or programming decisions nor promoted to policy-making positions.  Petitioner contends that the station's program director, Charles Derrick, a black, has no influence or control over programming policy; that another black employee, Paris Eley, who the licensee describes in its renewal application as a part-time news director and announcer, does not have the title of news director and has been refused permission to cover news events on behalf of the station; and that Reverend William Bowman, who reportedly also devotes time to the station's news operation, has, in fact, no news responsibilities.  n4 Columbia Citizens also alleges that whenever policy-making positions become available, whites with inferior qualifications are hired to fill such vacancies.  It is petitioner's contention that the foregoing discriminatory practices are not limited to the WOIC operation, but rather are common to all of the Speidel-owned stations. 

n4 No affidavits in support of Columbia Citizens' allegations have been supplied from these WOIC personnel.  Assertedly, the allegations are based upon statements made by Derrick and Eley in a discussion with petitioner concerning the operation, practices and policies of Station WOIC.

6.  In its opposition, the licensee denies any preferential promotion of whites at Station WOIC and maintains that Station WOIC, as well as the other Speidel stations, operates under a fair employment policy providing equal opportunities for blacks, both in initial employment and in advancement.  In support thereof, the licensee points out that the personnel profile for the Speidel stations, including Station WOIC where black employees outnumber whites 10 to 8, reflects the employment of 53 blacks and only 36 whites.  n5 As an example of the opportunities for blacks to achieve executive positions at the Speidel stations, the licensee notes that each of the program directors of these six stations is black and that blacks hold other responsible positions at Stations WHIH (general manager), WPAL (station manager), and WTMP (sales manager).  With respect to WOIC's purported use of misleading and inaccurate job descriptions, Joe Speidel states in an affidavit that all personnel at his stations bear the responsibilities and duties commensurate with their particular positions.  The WOIC general manager confirms Speidel's statement and specifically avers that Derrick's duties as the station's program director include: the responsibility for the quality, acceptability and presentation of commercial material; the assignment and maintenance of the announcers' work schedules; and the institution of all new programs, remote broadcasts and special sports programs.  According to Brannon, the WOIC program director also consults with the station's general manager and public affairs director concerning program format changes and new program material.  Derrick, by affidavit, attests to the foregoing description of his duties at Station WOIC.  With respect to Eley's position at the station, Brannon submits that he personally assigned Eley the responsibilities of the station's news director on a part-time basis  [*358]  and requested him "to stay on top of local news events"; that Eley received a salary increase at that time; and that Eley's announcing duties prevented his full-time devotion to news gathering.  According to Brannon, Eley is encouraged to cover news stories on his own initiative and, only on one occasion, was Eley requested by station management not to cover a particular news event.  n6 Finally, Brannon describes Reverend Bowman's responsibilities to include the gathering of news pertaining to church activities and to items of a general religious nature for presentation by Station WOIC.  Again, the WOIC employee, by affidavit, confirms the licensee's description of his station activities. 

n5 In an affidavit tendered with the licensee's opposition pleading, Station WOIC's general manager, R. H. Brannon, avers that it is his practice to give first priority to black applicants whenever the hiring of a new employee is being considered.  The affiant further states that all of the five employees, who have been added to the WOIC staff during the preceding three years, are black.

n6 That news event concerned a strike of hospital workers in Charleston, South Carolina, which is located approximately 120 miles from Columbia.  Brannon informed Eley that the event could be more fully and economically covered by Station WPAL which would thereupon provide that coverage to Station WOIC.  In his affidavit, Eley acknowledges his misunderstanding concerning his news title and confirms the accuracy of Brannon's description of his station responsibilities and the Charleston hospital strike incident.  The affiant further avers that "I use my discretion as to what local news to cover and subject only to my other duties on the air and transportation, I do cover a lot of local material".

7.  In reply, Columbia Citizens submits that its claim of discrimination against blacks is based upon a document which was sent to the Richland County Citizens Committee, Inc., by Derrick and Eley, who therein alleged the absence of blacks in policy-making positions at the Speidel stations and called for the establishment of a conscientious black news department and a separate black public relations department, headed by a black, to serve as liaison between Station WOIC and Columbia's black community.  These employees also opined that several WOIC programs (i.e., "Kaleidescope" and "Definition") were not relevant to the needs of the black community and that the station's criterion for hiring black salesmen (i.e., a college degree with prior experience in the field) was unrealistic.  Notwithstanding the licensee's description of its employees' responsibilities, petitioner posits that Derrick has little or no authority for planning or initiating programming; that consultation with Derrick concerning program matter is a mere formality before the station's general manager of public affairs acts in this regard; and that the public affairs director would be required to report to Derrick, rather than the reverse, if he was truly the station's program director.  Citing Derrick's opinion of the Kaleidoscope and Definition programs, Columbia Citizens asserts that Derrick's programming recommendations are ignored at Station WOIC.  In petitioner's view, Brannon's unawareness of the fact that his instructions were misunderstood by Eley and "were not in fact being carried out", reflects a lack of intimacy between the parties and casts doubt upon Eley's real authority over news.  According to Columbia Citizens, Reverend Bowman does not present news "in the sense of objective reporting of events".

8.  The Commission does not believe that a substantial and material question of fact has been raised with respect to the licensee's employment practices.  Petitioner's claim that whites with inferior qualifications are preferred over better qualified blacks is completely unsubstantiated.  No facts or examples of any person allegedly discriminated against because of race is supplied by Columbia Citizens, and the Commission notes the significant absence of any complaints of discriminatory  [*359]  conduct from station personnel, former employees, or job applicants.  While some WOIC employees may disagree with the criterion used by the station to select its sales personnel, there is no indication that a different standard is employed with respect to prospective white salesmen or that the criterion used constitutes an artificial barrier to black employment.  Moreover, the station's hiring pattern and employment profile belie a suggestion that blacks are confined to menial pursuits or are otherwise denied equal employment opportunities.  The same is true with respect to the other Speidel stations.  In short, petitioner's allegations lack the required specificity which would warrant exploration of the licensee's employment practices in an evidentiary hearing.  See Time-Life Broadcast, Inc., 33 FCC 2d 1050, 1059, 23 RR 2d 1165, 1176 (1972). In the same vein, petitioner's assertions that several WOIC employees do not exercise the responsibilities suggested by their job descriptions or titles are not only unsupported by factual evidence, but also refuted by the sworn statements of station officials which, in turn, are corroborated by the employees in question.  In this regard, we note that the licensee is not required to bestow program autonomy upon its program director and that no curtailment of Eley's news-gathering activities on behalf of the station apparently resulted from the misunderstanding surrounding his job classification.  See note 6, supra.  In view of the foregoing, the Commission concludes that the licensee did not misrepresent the responsibilities and functions of its program director and its principal news-gathering personnel.


9.  In support of its contention that the licensee has inadequately surveyed the needs of Columbia's black community, Columbia Citizens principally argues that blacks comprise approximately 42% of the population served by Station WOIC; that of the 58 representatives of the area's business community who were consulted by means of a mailed questionnaire, only seven are blacks; that several of the 58 representatives are advertisers of Station WOIC; and that blacks comprise about one-half of the 13 area residents who were considered by virtue of their multiple affiliations to be especially qualified to speak on community needs and who were personally interviewed by the licensee.  Columbia Citizens also submits that the narrative description of community needs set forth by the licensee in the subject renewal application appears to be based largely upon a report entitled "Opportunity and Growth in South Carolina 1968-1985" which allegedly gives little attention to the black community's particular needs, tastes, and desires as understood by black leaders.  In the same vein, petitioner charges that neither the WOIC public affairs director, who it believes is in charge of ascertaining Columbia's needs and interests on behalf of the licensee, nor any other white policy-making personnel of the licensee has any substantial involvement with blacks or their activities.  In petitioner's view, the licensee has not sampled an appropriately broad spectrum of community opinion for a municipality the size of Columbia.  n7 Columbia Citizens further contends that two of  [*360]  the 13 listed community spokesmen deny having been personally interviewed by any representative of Station WOIC. 

n7 Allegedly, the population of Columbia totaled 133,500 persons in 1969.

10.  With respect to the alleged inadequacy of its ascertainment of community needs, the licensee argues that Columbia Citizens has disregarded the continuing relationship, which the station's personnel maintains with the community and its organizations and which provides the licensee with must useful information concerning the community's needs and interests.  As evidence of the civic involvement of station personnel, the licensee points to Exhibit 1A of the subject renewal application which sets forth approximately 28 area organizations, 14 of which are reported to be primarily concerned with needs and interests of Columbia's black community.  n8 The licensee also maintains that its community ascertainment efforts were not limited to the 58 questionnaire responses and the 13 personal interviews challenged by petitioner.  Rather, discussions were conducted with station personnel, a majority of whom are black, and additional questionnaires were distributed to WOIC personnel who were to use them in interviewing as many Columbia citizens as possible during their daily station activities.  According to the licensee, the community needs and interests delineated in its Exhibit 1B were elicited from the foregoing AUXILIARY -- 2:05-2:50 P.M. -- and telephone interviews which were also conducted by the station's general manager and public affairs director.  With respect to the two community leaders who allegedly were not personally interviewed, the WOIC public affairs director explains that the questionnaire was used as a guide for the personal consultations; that the individuals, both of whom are members of the Columbia Citizens association, visited the station and were queried by her with respect to the survey; and that these leaders, instead of responding to the questionnaire at that time, left with copies of the questionnaire which they subsequently completed and returned to the station.  Since station personnel had spoken directly with these leaders, they were included in the listing of personal interviews. n9

n8 The licensee notes that Miss Cynthia Gilliam, its public affairs director, is and has long been substantially involved in public service activities of deep concern to Columbia's black residents and that the submitted portfolio of her associations and accomplishments covers many areas.  In addition, Miss Gilliam, by affidavit, denies that she is in charge of the licensee's community ascertainment efforts.  The affiant further states that she does not have the authority to make the actual determinations regarding programming and program policy at Station WOIC -- that authority is the province of the station's general manager under the policy direction of the licensee's owners.

n9 In its reply, Columbia Citizens renews its argument that the licensee has contacted only a handful of blacks, despite the substantial number of blacks residing in its service area, and that WOIC's survey efforts, individual or collectively, do not comport with the located in Greensburg, serves all parishes in its proposed Primer on Ascertainment of Community Problems by Broadcast Applicants, 20 FCC 2d 880 (1969), or established in the Commission's pronouncements and caselaw since Minshall Broadcasting Company, Inc., 11 FCC 2d 796, 12 RR 2d 502 (1968).

11.  The licensee's ascertainment surveys were conducted and the subject renewal application was filed with the Commission prior to the promulgation of the proposed Primer, which was intended to clarify and provide guidelines for the ascertainment of community problems.  On February 23, 1971, the Commission released its Report and Order adopting the Primer.  See 27 FCC 2d 650, 21 RR 2d 1507. Among other things, the Primer requires that broadcast applicants, including licensees seeking renewal of their authorizations, consult with a representative cross-section of community leaders and members of the general public in the area to be served and design programming responsive  [*361]  to those ascertained community problems as evaluated.  Since the Primer contemplates a person-to-person dialogue between the applicant and the persons representing the significant groups that comprise the community, only principals or management-level employees of the applicant can conduct the required personal interviews, whereas greater latitude is afforded an applicant in its consultations with members of the general public, provided that these interviews are generally distributed throughout the station's service area.  Measured against these standards the licensee's ascertainment surveys are clearly inadequate.  Nor do they fare better when tested by the standards in effect at the time the WOIC renewal application was filed.

12.  In our August 22, 1968 Public Notice entitled "Ascertainment of Community Needs by Broadcast Applicants," FCC 68-847, 33 Fed. Reg. 12113, 13 RR 2d 1903, we stated that applicants should supply "full information" on the steps taken to become informed of the real community needs and interests of the area to be served and that the range of group leaders consulted should be representative of the various community elements -- "public officials, educators, religious, the entertainment media, agriculture, business, labor, professional and eleemosynary organizations and others who bespeak the interests which make up the community." A necessary part of the ascertainment process is also the surveying of the general listening public who will receive the station's signals.  See Report and Statement of Policy Re: Commission En Banc Programming Inquiry, FCC 60-970, 25 Fed. Reg. 7291, 20 RR 2d 1901, 1915. The licensee identified contacts with representatives of Columbia's business community and with 13 area leaders; however, the Commission is not persuaded that these contacts, standing along, represent a fair, cross-sectional sampling of the groups, leaders and citizens that comprise the community of Columbia.  See Santa Fe Television, Inc., 18 FCC 2d 741, 16 RR 2d 934 (1969). While the licensee argues that these formal survey consultations should be viewed in conjunction with the continuing participation of Station WOIC and its personnel in the affairs and activities of the Columbia community, the latter efforts are not sufficiently detailed to show a meaningful investigation of the community's needs by the method n10 and to support the required conclusion that the licensee, through its various ascertainment efforts, has acquired a reasonable knowledge of its community's needs and has designed its program proposal in response thereto.  See United Television Company, Inc. (WFAN-TV), 18 FCC 2d 363, 16 RR 2d 621 (1969); Vernon Broadcasting Company, 12 FCC 2d 946, 13 RR 2d 245 (1968). Therefore, the Commission concludes that an evidentiary inquiry is warranted so that the licensee can fully demonstrate its efforts to ascertain the community needs and interests of the areas served by Station WOIC and the means by which it proposed to meet those needs and interests.  n11 See WPIX, Inc.  [*362]  (WPIX), 20 FCC 2d 298, 17 RR 2d 782 (1969); United Television Company, Inc. (WFAN-TV), supra. We do not believe, however, that a misrepresentation issue concerning the licensee's survey contacts is warranted.  The WOIC public affairs director's explanation concerning the listing of the two Columbia Citizens members with the other community leaders with whom the licensee had directly spoken, is not contradicted and demonstrates a reasonable predicate for the licensee's action.  Contrary to petitioner's opinion, this matter does not adversely reflect upon the licensee's requisite qualifications.  See RKO-General, Inc., 33 FCC 2d 664, 23 RR 2d 930 (1972).

n10 Similarly, the survey, efforts of these employees, as well as the personal interviews conducted by the station's management-level personnel, suffer from a lack of specificity.  See Southern Minnesota Supply Co. (KYSM), 12 FCC 2d 66 (1968).

n11 In this regard, the licensee will be permitted to demonstrate its ongoing efforts to remain conversant with and attentive to the community's problems throughout the period when the original renewal application was in deferred status.  Cf. Chuck Stone v. FCC, D.C. Cir. Case No. 71-1166, decided June 30, 1972, 24 RR 2d 2105, rehearing denied September 1, 1972, 25 RR 2d 2001; WKBN Broadcasting Corp., 30 FCC 2d 958, 974, 22 RR 2d 609, 625-26 (1971), reconsideration denied FCC 72-1002, released November 15, 1972.


13.  Generally, Columbia Citizens submits that Station WOIC primarily caters to the culture, the habits and the stereotypes of the segregated past by presenting a steady diet of soul and gospel music and makes no countervailing effort to contribute to the Communication of liberating information, education and ideals.  n12 Columbia Citizens acknowledges that, upon request, station time is made available to organizations such as the Urban League and NAACP., however, the petitioner charges that the licensee neither participates in any significant manner in the planning and preparation of these presentations nor develops programming addressed to community needs with its station personnel.  It is the station's policy, opines petitioner, to run a low-cost operation by presenting a few discussion programs produced by others without cost to it and a "rip-and-read" news operation that provides very little local news and almost no local news of particular concern to Columbia's black population.  n13 The petitioner further contends that the station does not, as claimed, devote 65% to 70% of its newscasts to local and regional events; that the description of a number of the programs set forth in the station's program schedules are misleading; and that only three of the fourteen public service type programs promised in Station WOIC's 1966 renewal application were presented during the composite week. 

n12 In Exhibit 1C of the 1969 renewal application, the licensee detailed several of the ascertained community problems and the public affairs programs it proposes to broadcast during its next license term to meet those problems.  No specific allegations are directed by petitioner to the community responsiveness of the programming material set forth in this exhibit which, in any event, will be explored under the specified Suburban issue.  Accordingly, we will herein consider petitioner's allegations in the context of the programming which Station WOIC presented from 1966 to 1969.

n13 In support of the latter allegation, petitioner submits an affidavit from several of its members who, as leaders of black community organizations, have regular occasion to request station coverage of events and issues of alleged importance and concern to Columbia's black community.  The affiants state that they have repeatedly been informed by station personnel that no news reporters are available and that the news items should be given to the announcer on duty at the studio.  It is the affiants' belief that Station WOIC does not maintain a news department and has no news reporters.

14.  The licensee denies that its programming is unresponsive to the needs of its community as a whole or to Columbia's sizable black citizenry and, in support thereof, the licensee points to a number of typical programs broadcast during the last year of its past license term, such as:  [*363] 



The official 15-minute, weekly program of the Columbia Urban League.  Approximately 85% of the programs utilize a discussion format hosted by the League's executive director and, aside from programs and projects of the organization, are devoted to disseminating information regarding housing, employment opportunities, voter registration and educational projects.  n14



This is a discussion program composed of a panel of area high school youth and a professional moderator.  The program is presented on a weekly basis during a 15-minute time segment and presents comments from students of different sex, race, religion and economic background n15


"Employment Guidance Center Program" (formerly, "Good Advice").



This program has been presented for three years and is now broadcast for a 30-minute period on Saturday mornings.  The program, moderated by an employment counselor from the organization, consists of interviews and discussions with prominent area businessmen, industrialists and professional regarding their firms' educational requirements for employment.  Information concerning the different types of employment available in the area and the salary range, fringe benefits and similar areas of interest to a prospective employee is also aired during this program.


"Palmetto Profiles" (formerly "Columbia Closeup").



A 15-minute, weekly interview-discussion program featuring the executive director of a Planned Parenthood organization for Richland and Lexington Counties.  Participants on this program include doctors, lawyers, judges, OEO officials and other community leaders concerned with improving the health and welfare of the area's residents.


"Homemaker Program."



This is a series of five, 5-minute programs presented weekly in cooperation with the Home Economics Division of the South Carolina Department of Education.  Programs in this series provides basic information on such topics as pre-natal care, obtaining the most dollar and food value from food stamps and insurance values.


"Senior Citizens Program."



A 15-minute, weekly program featuring the coordinator of the Foster Grandparent's Project located at Pineland, a state training school and hospital.  The program is designed to disseminate information of value to the area's senior citizens and guests have included physicians specializing in geriatrics and representatives of the local Social Security Office and the state employment service.



n14 A similar program, "Swing into Action," which is also presented under the aegis of the Urban League, dealt with black economic development.  Other weekly programs devoted to apprising blacks of the service rendered by Columbia's legal aid agency ("Your Neighborhood Lawyer") and to explaining the municipal, county, state and national governmental structure, the electoral college and the proper use of voting machines (Voter Education Project -- "V.E.P. Report") have also been aired by Station WOIC.

n15 According to the WOIC general manager, the format of this program is subject to modification.  Due to difficulties encountered in arranging an appropriate student panel on a regular basis during the school year, it is sometimes necessary for the program moderator to present music accompanied by a narrative description.


The licensee's past programming has also included a special 30-minute, panel discussion program on juvenile crime with a judge and the chief correctional officer for the Richland County Family Court, a police captain, and the public relations director fot the Richland County Citizens Committee; and a weekly, 30-minute program that was aired for a three-month period in 1969 and that dealt with equal  [*364]  job opportunities.  On a seasonal basis, Station WOIC has also presented a program, consisting of news, discussions and interviews by students and faculty members of South Carolina State College, and a program containing advice on filling out federal tax forms and other pertinent information relating to the requirements and services of the Internal Revenue Service.  n16

n16 In addition, the station's public affairs director identifies those members of the Columbia Citizens Association, who have utilized the broadcast facilities of Station WOIC on behalf of their other organizations and who have been guest participants on such public affairs programs as "Palmetto Profiles" and "Employment Guidance Center".

15.  Turning to petitioner's more specific allegations, the licensee contends that only two of the fourteen specifically mentioned programs which it planned to present during its 1966-1969 license term were not undertaken during that period, namely, a series on good citizenship and a series dealing with releases from various governmental agencies and public service institutions.  n17 The licensee further maintains that six of the promised programs were presented under the same or different titles during the composite week and that another program was pre-empted by a special local program on the date selected by the Commission.  According to the licensee, the remaining programs or substitutes of similar service characteristics were aired during the license term.  With respect to the allegations addressed to its news operation, the licensee states that, as in the case of many stations of its size, it does not maintain a full-time news department.  Rather, it principally relies upon the news-gathering activities of Eley and Reverend Bowman (see para. 6, supra), whose efforts are complemented by the remaining station members and announcers who, as part of their regular duties, are also alert to newsworthy happenings in the community and are available to cover local news events, if necessary.  In this manner, station personnel covered a school problem in Lexington, South Carolina, a disturbance on the campus of South Carolina State College, and a highway controversy in Columbia.  The station also receives many requests from various community groups for coverage of future events and activities and, in its general manager's opinion, the station does its best to provide the requested news coverage and at the same time, afford airtime to all of Columbia's community groups with particular emphasis to those dealing with the community's black citizens.  Regarding its estimate of the amount of airtime to be devoted to local and regional news events, the licensee submits that 42% of the news broadcast during the composite week was clearly related to local events n18 and that the inclusion of the local news, which was incorporated within the station's other newscasts, would bring Station WOIC's local news coverage up to at least 65% during that selected period. 

n17 Reportedly, the subject matter of these projected series was elsewhere tested in the station's program service.

n18 This figure was calculated by adding the broadcast time of the programs that dealt with news of a predominately local nature, such as, church and civic news, funeral announcements, and meetings, to the aggregate broadcast time of the newscasts entitled "South Carolina News Roundup."

16.  In its reply pleading, Columbia Citizens reiterates its objections to Station WOIC's program service and submits, for the first time, that repeated logging irregularities have made it impossible to determine  [*365]  the public affairs programs the licensee actually presented during the composite week.  Columbia Citizens points out that on four of the five weekdays during the 8:00 to 8:30 p.m. time period, the licensee scheduled multiple public affairs programs at the same time without indicating which, if either program, was presented.  Columbia Citizens further submits that several programs, not presented in cooperation with a bona fide educational institution, are inaccurately listed on the logs as educational programs, and that a U.S. Army recruiting program and a National Guard program are wrongfully classified as public affairs programs.  n19 It is also revealed for the first time in this pleading, that petitioner monitored Station WOIC's programming for a full week in November of 1969.  For a variety of reasons, however, only one day's monitoring, that of November 21, 1969, provides the basis for petitioner's allegations that the news broadcast by Station WOIC amounted to 4.2% of its total airtime, rather than 8.7% as claimed in the licensee's composite week analysis and that local and regional news only amounted to 45.3% of the news broadcast by Station WOIC, exclusive of weather forecasts and temperature checks.  n20 Finally, Columbia Citizens argues that Station WOIC neither broadcasts nor has the capacity to present any local news of a type which would require an affirmative effort on the part of the station's staff.  In support thereof, petitioner submits the affidavits of two of its members, Dewey Duckett, Jr., and Isaac W. Williams, who stated therein that Station WOIC does not cover or report upon events of interest to the black community, such as the regular public meetings of the governing board of directors of the Lexington-Richland Economic Opportunity Agency, the Columbia City Council, and the Richland County school board; that Mr. Williams, as field director for the South Carolina NAACP, was not interviewed by the station concerning his organization's opposition to the Judge Haynesworth nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court and its reaction to the Senate's disapproval of the appointment; and that news affecting Columbia's black residents is often not covered by Station WOIC because of its lack of news staff.  n21 On the basis of its monitoring, Columbia Citizens also faults Station WOIC for not reporting the visit of Brig. Gen. F. Davison, one of the Army's highest ranking black officers, to nearby Fort Jackson and for not promptly reporting the Senate's rejection of the Judge Haynesworth appointment. 

n19 It is also suggested by virtue of the station's request for a listing of the participants on the Employment Guidance Center's program (see para. 14, supra) that the licensee has little or no control over the content of Station WOIC's public affairs programs.  Such inference is not warranted, and since petitioner cites no specific Instance where the licensee has been remiss in this regard, this unsupported accusation will not be considered further.

n20 In petitioner's opinion, reliance cannot be placed upon the sample program logs in analyzing the station's newscasts since the monitoring disclosed that the hourly and half hourly news headline programs are not always one minute in duration as scheduled and since the content of the station's news programs (i.e., local, regional, and national) is not depicted on the logs.  Based upon its analysis of the sample logs, Columbia Citizens further submits that the amount of broadcast time devoted to news fell short of the 10 hours and 15 minutes proposed in the station's 1966 renewal application.

n21 Also tendered with petitioner's reply pleading is an affidavit from "a regular listener of WOIC" who cites the station for its failure to inform listeners of programs of vital concern to the poor, such as social security, welfare benefits and rights, and housing.

 [*366]  17.  As the Commission has pointed out on numerous occasions, the decision as to the choice of a station's entertainment format is in the sound discretion of the licensee.  E.g., KNOK Broadcasting, Inc., 29 FCC 2d 47, 21 RR 2d 960 (1971). Here, as admitted by Columbia Citizens, the entertainment format selected by Station WOIC does have wide support among Columbia's black residents, and we are not convinced that the Commission should interfere and require the licensee to replace its present entertainment format.  See Interstate Broadcasting Company, Inc., 35 FCC 2d 737, 24 RR 2d 874 (1972). Nor are we persuaded by petitioner's general allegations that the station's informational programming is insensitive to the community's needs.  See Black Identity Education Association, FCC 72-378, 21 RR 2d 746. On the contrary, an examination of the illustrative public affairs programs listed in the WOIC renewal application discloses programs clearly addressed to community problems, including several programs specifically attentive to the needs and interests of Columbia's black citizenry.  See paragraph 14, supra.  Programs dealing with black problems in the areas of civil rights, housing, employment opportunities, social welfare, civics and economic development have apparently been broadcast by Station WOIC.  n22 That petitioner, and even some station employees, might regard certain individual programs as irrelevant to the interests of the black community does not raise an issue justifying our intrusion in this area.  See WKBN Broadcasting Corp., supra, 30 FCC 2d at 969-71, 22 RR 2d at 621-22. To belittle the station's public affairs programming on the basis of the licensee's expenditures for these programs is not warranted, especially where, as here, that programming as a whole appears responsive to the community's needs and interests.  Moreover, the Commission does not consider the relationship between revenues and program expeditures as a factor in evaluating the adequacy of a licensee's public affairs programming, albeit a request to that effect is contained in a current rule making petition (RM-1837).  To apply any new standards in this regard on a case-by-case basis, without first subjecting them to the comprehensive consideration inherent in the rule making process,  [*367]  is not appropriate.  See Aliaza Federal de Pueblos Libres, 31 FCC 2d 557, 22 RR 2d 860 (1971). 

n22 Two 14-minute programs listed on the program logs for the composite week were misclassified by the licensee.  The obviousness of the error and the fact that the misclassifications did not appreciably enhance the amount of broadcast time devoted to public affairs programming negate an inference that these errors were designed to deceive the Commission.  See Scripps-Howard Broadcasting Co., 31 FCC 2d 1090, 1104-05, 22 RR 2d 1069, 1086 (1971). As noted by Columbia Citizens, the licensee was remiss in listing the actual starting time of the programs on its pre-typed logs and in making appropriate corrections and notations as required by Rule 73.112.  These shortcomings, however, do not raise a substantial question requiring exploration in a hearing.  For the most part, the public affairs programs set forth in the 1966 renewal application were undertaken by the licensee and, according to the sworn statement of the station's public affairs director "WOIC showed [six] of them in its composite week for the 1969 application." This representation is not undermined by the licensee's failure to note the programs' actual starting times, which Columbia Citizens initially raised in its reply pleading.  Similarly, petitioner's claimed confusion concerning what programs were aired during the weekday 8:00-8:30 p.m. time segment can easily be dispelled by reference to Rule 73.112(a(1)(ii), which states in pertinent part that: "[If] programs are broadcast during which separately identifiable program units of a different type or source are presented, and if the licensee wishes to count such units separately, the beginning and ending time for the longer program need be entered only once for the entire program.  The program units which the licensee wishes to count separately shall then be entered underneath the entry for a longer program, with the beginning and ending of each such unit, and with the entry indented or otherwise distinguished so as to make it clear that the program unit referred to was broadcast within the longer program."

18.  Petitioner's principal objection to the news service of Station WOIC appears to be that the station has no full-time news department or reporters.  Initially, we must note that our concern in this regard "is only that the station show that it has employed sufficient personnel to assure the presentation of an amount of local, national and inter-national news which is commensurate with the needs of the community." See Letter to Mr. Richard A. Beserra, FCC 72-965, 25 RR 2d 777, 780. Here, the licensee has indicated the general manner by which it becomes acquainted with news happenings of concern to its community and has cited several instances where its personnel, despite their other station duties, have been utilized to cover and report on events which the licensee deemed newsworthy.  Petitioner views such coverage as sporadic and without continuity; however, these objections do not raise a material question regarding the station's ability to inform its listeners.  Columbia Citizens also urges the Commission to fault the licensee for not immediately interrupting its programming to report the rejection of Judge Haynesworth's appointment n23 and for not covering various other news events relevant to Columbia's black community.  A licensee has wide discretion in the area of programming and, in the absence of extrinsic evidence that the licensee has falsified, distorted or suppressed news, the Commission will not substitute its judgment for that of the licensee in determining what news is of prime interest to its listening audience and the manner in which is should be presented.  See Universal Communications Corp., supra, 27 FCC 2d at 1025-26, 21 RR 2d at 364-65. Again, we will not interfere with the exercise of the licensee's news judgment where, as here, there is no showing that the licensee consistently and unreasonably ignored important matters of public concern Compare Radio Station WSNT, Inc., 27 FCC 2d 993, 21 RR 2d 405 (1971). Based upon its analysis of Station WOIC's sample logs, petitioner questions whether the licensee has, in fact, fulfilled its earlier promises with respect to the amount of airtime allocated to news programs, particularly local and regional news.  We have carefully examined the program logs covering the composite week and we find that both the petitioner and the licensee have apparently failed to include in their calculations the weather reports and temperature announcements which Station WOIC broadcast during the period in question.  See notes 1 and 4 of Rule 73.112.  The consideration of this material resolves the claimed discrepancies relating to the licensee's news broadcasts.  n24 In view of the foregoing, the Commission believes that no hearing issue is appropriate with respect to the program service presented by Station WOIC during its past license term. 

n23 According to petitioner, the result of the Senate's vote was first carried by the A.P. newswire at 1:08 p.m.; nearly one hour later, Station WOIC reported this event in its regularly scheduled 2:00 p.m. news program.

n24 By virtue of a single day's monitoring of Station WOIC, petitioner suggests that the sample logs inaccurately portray the station's program service and cannot be relied upon.  We disagree.  To measure or predict a station's performance on the basis of a single day of operation is not warranted.  Moreover, licensees are not required to satisfy their projected programming percentages on a daily or weekly basis.  See Tri-Counties Communications, Inc., 31 FCC 2d 83, 22 RR 2d 678 (1971).


19.  Columbia Citizens accuses Station WOIC of devoting an excessive amount of time to commercial announcements and of exceeding its limitation of 25% commercial matter in any 60-minute segment on several occasions during the preceding license term.  Petitioner further criticizes the licensee for increasing from 25% to 30% the maximum percentage of commercial matter in normal hours and for permitting up to 20 minutes (33 1/3%) during two three-hour periods on Thursday, Fridays, and Saturdays and at all times during election campaigns.  The licensee opposes the specification of an issue in this regard, arguing that the preceding license renewal application, as amended on December 30, 1966, reflects that 18 minutes was the maximum amount of commercial matter which it proposed to normally allow each hour and that the only change in its commercial policy, the substitution of Wednesday for Saturday as a heavy traffic day, is responsive to present buying habits in its market and does not represent a substantial variance from Station WOIC's prior commercial practices.

20.  Examination of the subject renewal application reflects that the licensee exceeded its 18-minute commercial ceiling in 8 of the 124 hourly segments of the composite week and that none of the overages exceeded 20 minutes.  The licensee specifically stated that deviations from its normal commercial policy may occur under certain circumstances.  It is not alleged that the eight overages did not fall within the specific circumstances provided for by the licensee.  Nor has petitioner shown that Station WOIC's commercial policy contravenes our most recent pronouncements regarding commercial standards.  n25 See Chicago Federation of Labor and Industrial Union Council, FCC 72-1079, released December 8, 1972.  No substantial and material question has been raised concerning the station's commercial practices and no issue is, therefore, warranted.  See Mahony Valley Broadcasting Corporation, FCC 72-1001, released November 15, 1972. 

n25 While recognizing the right of a broadcaster to exercise his reasonable judgment in terms of his particular situation, the Commission expressed general approval of a commercial policy which specifies a normal commercial content of 18 minutes in each hour with stated exceptions permitting up to 20 minutes per hour during no more than 10% of the station's total weekly broadcast hours and with a further exception allowing up to 22 minutes where the excess over 20 minutes is purely political advertising.  See Report No. 8842. released February 13, 1970, concerning the WXCL standards.


21.  Columbia Citizens filed a supplement to its petition to deny on February 16, 1971.  See note 3, supra.  As part of that submission, the petition attached affidavits from two representatives of the University of South Florida student government charged with the responsibility of collecting contributions for the Disadvantaged Student Loan Fund.  The affiants state that in May of 1970 they were personally informed by the Station WTMP general manager that the money originally collected from "Soul Night", n26 which had been spent, would  [*369]  be replaced and that the station would given $525 to their fund by June 12, 1970.  According to the affiants and a former announcer at Station WTMP, none of the money collected (approximately $1,150) was ever donated to any scholarship fund, including the affiants' Disadvantaged Student Loan Fund.  It is alleged that the "Soul Night" proceeds were used to repair damage caused by a fire at the station's offices.  Petitioner also contends that in mid-1968 Station WTMP defrauded one of its advertisers, James Brown Productions, by airing only $600 worth of the $900 in spot advertising it purchased and by mis-applying the remaining $300 to the amount of the advertiser's former manager, George Grogan, against whom the station had a disputed claim.  According to petitioner, the advertiser inquired at that time concerning the amount of spot announcements presented on its behalf and was informed by the salesman concerned that $900 worth of advertising was broadcast.  n27 It is further alleged that this salesman, who subsequently became the general manager at Station WTMP, had earlier been accused by the station's management of improperly withholding money from his station accounts.  Affidavits, in support of these contentions, are supplied from the station's former program director-announcer and its former traffic manager.  n28

n26 On July 20, 1968, Station WTMP sponsored this promotion, whose proceeds, after expenses, were to be directed to "the WTMP Scholarship Fund to be divided between Hillsborough, Polk, and Pinellas Counties".

n27 In August, 1970, the advertiser requested an accounting of the money it spent at Station WTMP in 1968.  By letter of August 18, 1970, a copy of which is submitted by petitioner, the Speidel corporation's comptroller replied that "we are unable to supply the information you request from the station records."

n28The remaining allegations, which are based on the statements made by three former Station WTMP announcers, largely relate to their terms of employment and rates of compensation while at the station -- matters in which the Commission has declined to interfere, absent a clear showing that the licensee's dealings with its employees has contravened law or adversely affected the program service rendered to the public.  Here, the required showing has not proffered.  Petitioner's other allegations, which are again based upon the uncontroverted statements of these former employees, do not raise a material and substantial question of impropriety on the part of the station or its management.  Significantly, there is no showing that the actions complained of were unreasonable or impermissible.  Compare KSID, Inc., 22 FCC 2d 833, 18 RR 2d 1187 (1970); and United Television Company, Inc. (WFAN-TV), supra, 18 FCC 2d at 365-67, 16 RR 2d at 624-28. Further consideration of the foregoing matters does not appear warranted at this time.

22.  The licensee does not dispute the allegations raised by Columbia Citizens.  Rather, it argues that "[None] of the allegations is relevant to a resolution of the WOIC renewal application." We disagree.  The acts complained of arose in the operation of a broadcast station, whose corporate licensee was controlled by WOIC's principal stockholder.  n29 It is well established that serious misconduct in the operation of a broadcast facility reflects upon the basic qualifications of the licensee and its principals and can be considered in other Commission proceedings involving those same persons. E.g., Faulkner Radio, Inc., 15 FCC 2d 780, 15 RR 2d 285 (1968); and Walter T. Gaines (WGAV), 25 FCC 1 387, 17 RR 165 (1958), reconsideration denied 26 FCC 460, 17 RR 185 (1959). Mr. Spiedel's awareness of or involvement in these matters is not apparent from the pleadings before us; nor can we determine at this time whether Specidel paid insufficient attention to the operation of Station WTMP or unreasonably delegated his responsibilities and obligations to other station officials.  In any event, however, the  [*370]  ultimate responsibility for the alleged wrongdoing of Station WTMP's officers and employees clearly rests upon the major principal.  See Star Stations of Indiana, Inc., 19 FCC 2d 991, 993, 17 RR 2d 491, 493-94 (1969); Robert D. and Martha M. Rapp, 12 FCC 2d 703, 13 RR 2d 32 (1968). In view of the seriousness of the questions raised n30 and the licensee's virtual reticence with respect thereto, the Commission is constrained to specify appropriate issues to resolve those questions at a hearing. 

n29 At the time of the alleged misconduct, the corporate licensee of Station WTMP was wholly owned by Speidel Broadcasters, Inc., whose 99.45% stockholder was Joe Speidel, III.  According to the licensee, Speidel, who was the president of the Station WTMP licensee, "is actively engaged in the supervision of each of [his] stations, and visits several of the stations every month." See para. 2, supra.

n30 As we noted in our Memorandum Opinion and Order concerning fraudulent billing practices, "misrepresentations by licensees in any and all billing practices... certainly reflects adversely on the qualifications of a licensee and, to a degree, on the industry as a whole.  The public interest, convenience and necessity clearly require reasonable ethical business practices in the industry -- specifically on the part of individual broadcasters.  It is within the Commission's authority, and is its responsibility, to take whatever action is appropriate to check these practices, which essentially amoung to the use of broadcast facilities for fraudulent purposes." 23 FCC 2d 70, 71, 19 RR 2d 1506, 1508 (1970). Also see Public Notice, FCC 72-1090, released December 7, 1972.  Of similar import is the possible misappropriation of proceeds from "Soul Night" and the resulting deception upon the public.


23.  In the judgment of the Commission, substantial and material questions of fact have been raised with respect to the adequacy of the licensee's efforts to ascertain the community needs and interests of the areas served by Station WOIC and the means by which it proposed to meet those needs and interests.  The pleadings also raise serious questions concerning misconduct at a station controlled by the licensee's major principal.  The Commission is, therefore, unable to make the statutory finding that a grant of the renewal application for Station WOIC is consistent with the public interest, convenience, and necessity, and is of the opinion that the foregoing matters should be explored in an evidentiary hearing.

24.  Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED, That, pursuant to Section 309(e) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, the above captioned license renewal applications, ARE DESIGNATED FOR HEARING at a time and place to be specified in a subsequent Order, upon the following issues:

(1) To determine whether standard broadcast Station WTMP, while under the ownership and control of Joe Speidel, III, engaged in fraudulent billing practices.

(2) To determine, with respect to the aforenoted period, the facts and circumstances surrounding the Station WTMP promotion, "Soul Night", and the use of the proceeds therefrom.

(3) To determine whether, on the basis of the facts adduced in response to the foregoing issues, Joe Speidel, III, an officer and principal of the corporate licensees of Stations WTMP and WOIC, participated in or failed to exercise adequate control or supervision over the management and operation of Station WTMP and, if so, whether said actions adversely reflect upon the qualifications of WOIC, Inc., to be a Commission licensee.

(4) To determine the efforts made by WOIC, Inc., to ascertain the community needs and interests of the areas served by Station WOIC and the means by which the licensee proposed to meet those needs and  [*371]  interests during the period the 1969 application was in deferred status (i.e., December 1, 1969 through December 1, 1972).  n31

n31 See note 11, supra.

(5) To determine whether, in light of all the evidence adduced pursuant to the foregoing issues, a grant of the application for renewal of license of Station WOIC would serve the public interest, convenience and necessity.

25.  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, That, the petition to deny and supplement thereto, filed by the Columbia Citizens Concerned with Improved Broadcasting, IS DISMISSED; and that considered as an informal objection filed pursuant to Rule 1.587, the aforementioned petition, IS GRANTED to the extent indicated above and IS DENIED in all other respects.

26.  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, That, the motions to expedite consideration of renewal application, filed by WOIC, Inc., ARE DISMISSED as moot.

27.  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, That, the Columbia Citizens Concerned with Improved Broadcasting is made a party to the hearing ordered herein.  n32

n32 Several members of Columbia Citizens are purportedly acting in a representative capacity; however, their authority to do so has not been clearly established.  Accordingly, we have not named these organizations as parties to the instant hearing.  Compare Radio Station WSNT, Inc., supra. Similarly, we have declined to accord party status to the 19 community leaders who, in affidavits attached to petitioner's reply pleading, merely "generally support the allegations made by Petitioners against WOIC [and] believe them to be true".  Under these circumstances, we believe the future participation of these individuals and organizations in this hearing should be governed by Rules 1.223 and 1.225.

28.  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, That, in accordance with Section 309(e) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, the burden of proceeding with the introduction of evidence shall be on the party respondent as to issues (1), (2) and (3).  The burden of proceeding with respect to issue (4) and the burden of proof with respect to all of the issues herein shall be upon WOIC, Inc.

29.  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, That, to avail themselves of the opportunity to be heard, WOIC, Inc., and the party respondent, pursuant to Section 1.221(c) of the Commission's Rules, in person or by attorney, shall, within twenty (20) days of the mailing of this Order, file with the Commission in triplicate, a written appearance stating an intention to appear on the date fixed for the hearing and present evidence on the issues specified in the Order.

30.  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, That, WOIC, Inc., shall, pursuant to Section 311(a)(2) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and Section 1.594 of the Commission's Rules, give notice of the hearing within the time and in the manner prescribed in such rules, and shall advise the Commission of the publication of such notice as required Section 1.594(g) of the Rules.







In Re Renewal of WOIC (AM) -- Special Broadcasters, Inc.

Although I concur in the result reached today by my fellow Commissioners, it is my position that issues should have been added to the Designation Order, i.e., whether the station had engaged in discriminatory practices toward the minority community within its service area and failed to serve them thru its programming; and whether the employees of the station whose official titles bespoke of the exercise of power, discretion, and policy making, e.g., program director, news director, etc. were allowed to enjoy and exercise their duties or whether they were effectively or constructively enjoined from the exercise thereof by direction of the principals of the licensee.

However, it is my understanding that such issues may be brought up at the hearing as corollary matters to the "ascertainment" issue, contained in the Designation Order, and I trust that these issues will be developed at the hearing.

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