The tangled claims and counterclaims over operating rights to Channel Five may finally be resolved today, when the FCC meets for the first time this year in Washington.
Today's meeting follows last Wednesday's decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals not to reconsider the FCC's 1969 ruling that the broadcast license for Channel Five in Boston be granted to Boston Broadcasting, Inc. (BBI).
Should the Commission, in its meeting today, set the date for BBI's takeover from the current operator, WHDH, it will end a long struggle between BBI and the Herald-Traveler Corp., parent company of WHDH.
In January, 1969, WHDH's license to Channel Five ran out, and was awarded to BBI, a private company with a number of Harvard professors as shareholders. Previously, four other challengers had battled unsuccessfully for 13 years to wrest the license from WHDH.
WHDH has since operated on a temporary license, stalling BBI's takeover through a series of suits and appeals. In late April, 1971, WHDH filed charges with the FCC accusing BBI of fraud, misrepresentation, and concealment. Two months ago, following information unearthed by a team of Herald Traveler reporters, the Security and Exchange Commission brought a civil suit against Nathan David, executive vice president of BBI, on charges of selling unregistered stock.
Last Wednesday's appellate court decision denied an FCC request to reconsider awarding the license to BBI because of David's alleged involvement with the illegal sale of stock.
Judge Harold Leventhal, speaking for the three-judge panel, said that the charge of David's violation of the law "did not relate to BBI or to a matter within the direct cognizance of the FCC."
The judges advised the FCC, however, to request David's separation from BBI operations until cleared of the charges against him.
Immediately following the appellate court's decision. BBI formally requested the FCC to name a date for the takeover. Benito Gaguine, the BBI lawyer in Washington, said Thursday that he thought WCVB--the assigned call letters for the BBI station--would be given permission to go on the air within 30 days.
Other BBI officials, however, refused to speculate when a change-over might be made.
WHDH president Harold E. Claney, in a statement issued just after Gaguine's, called Gaguine's prediction "preposterous." Clancy also said that the Court of Appeals merely relegated the significant charges against BBI to the proper authority, the FCC.
Three weeks ago, a BBI test pattern interrupted nine minutes of WHDH-TV programming. BBI issued a statement the next day maintaining that the jamming was accidental, caused by the activation of a faulty switch during repairs.
WCVB will be affiliated with the ABC national network