Who Owns Your Tower?

A year or so ago I wrote about the importance of changing your Antenna Registration through the FCC’s registration system whenever there is a change in ownership of a station and the station assets include a tower.  Not all towers require registration, we know, but IF the tower(s) is registered and if title changes through the sale of a station, this is one of those often over-looked tedious details that get ignored…and sometimes come back to haunt you.  The most recent example of this occurred in Nevada.  In 2006, Ely Radio acquired KWNA-AM/FM from Sheen Broadcasting.  The purchase agreement would seem to reflect that the tower went with the deal.  The FCC’s Antenna Registration section shows that Sheen Broadcasting is still the owner.

Now, six years later, comes along a tower lighting issue and a resulting fine.  The FCC says Ely Radio should be liable for the fine but Ely protested by saying they did not own the tower.  The FCC did not accept the argument and the fine remains with Ely Radio.

The point is not whether Ely Radio owns the tower or if Sheen Broadcasting owns the tower.  The point is that if you sell or buy a tower, change the ownership records with the FCC!  It appears (for the moment) that Sheen Broadcasting dodged the bullet.  However, the decision and the fine could just as easily gone the other way.

But here’s an interesting twist:  Ely Radio is losing ownership to a creditor through a liquidation for debt.  Question:  Who owns the tower?  If Ely Radio maintains it does not own the tower (even if the FCC says it does) and the tower is registered to Sheen Broadcasting (even though Sheen maintains it does not own the tower), who will wind up owning the tower…Ely, Sheen, or the creditor?

The job is not done until the paperwork is completed, right?  Whether you’re a seller or a buyer, make sure the tower ownership records are correct.

That’s 30 for now…For What It’s Worth.