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Only one applicant files so far for last Spokane TV channel

June 4, 1987

By Tom Sowa
The Spokesman-Review

With a week to go before a federal deadline, only one applicant has filed for Channel 34, an available Spokane television channel.

Channel 34 is one of three designated ultrahigh frequency (UHF) stations in this area. The two other UHF stations, channels 22 and 28, carry independent programs and are operated out of Spokane offices.

The deadline for the currently unused channel is June 10, said Gordon Godfrey of the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C.

At present, 34 is the only unfilled over-the-air channel in the Spokane market, according to the FCC.

The sole applicant so far is Robin C. Brandt of Altoona, Pa., who filed a construction permit March 31 with the FCC’s office in Washington, D.C.

Brandt said he works for the state of Pennsylvania and previously filed for two other station licenses in other parts of the country.

“It’s a business investment primarily,” Brandt said. “But that doesn’t rule out the possibility of going ahead and proceeding with building a tower and station.”

The FCC requires an applicant to file first for a station construction permit. If construction doesn’t start within two years, the license is revoked.

Brandt is the third person to apply for Channel 34 since it was made available in December 1982. The first license holder was William V. Johnson. The second was Stephen Matlock of Boise, who held the license from 1984 to 1986.

In late 1986, the FCC reopened applications for the channel, which conceivably could be operated at up to 5 million watts as long as the signal doesn’t interfere with others in the area. Output and signal distance would be determined by tower height and transmission power.

Brandt admitted that he sees Channel 34 as a potential moneymaker.

“I might market it to someone else who would show interest in it,” he said.

Picking up channel permits, then selling them to larger broadcast operations became a standard practice in recent years, said Bob Hamacher, general manager of KAYU (Channel 28). He said he doubts Brandt or any other Channel 34 applicant will use the license to open another TV station soon.

“The situation here is tough enough already – just look at what happened with KSKN (Channel 22), with its two bankruptcies so far,” Hamacher said.

KSKN, which went on the air in 1983, filed for financial reorganization in 1985 and again last April.

Matlock, who operates several weekly newspapers in southern Idaho, said he and his partners failed to find financing after obtaining Channel 34’s permit in late 1984.

“We couldn’t get our package together,” Matlock said.

Recent FCC changes, however, have made it more difficult for speculators to obtain a permit and hold it indefinitely in anticipation of future sale.

The FCC’s Godfrey said fewer than half of all permits are renewed if no construction has taken place two years after the license is issued.

“The FCC only extends the permit if special circumstances can be proven, such as a zoning change makes building a new station difficult,” he said.

Application forms for Channel 34’s license can be obtained from the Federal Communications Commission Secretary, 1919 M St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20554.

Thursday, June 4, 1987

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