Rules regarding the processing FM applications – particularly those involving upgrade applications that require the forced change of the channel on which another station is operating – can be very complicated. In a decision released the week before last, the FCC looked at all sorts of issues that can be raised by one of these applications – including clarifying the timing of the required reimbursement for the costs of the station that is being forced to change channels, the timing of required channel changes, and the ability of an applicant to file an upgrade while a license application is pending for initially constructed facilities of a station. For any radio operator contemplating an upgrade involving coordination of channel changes with other stations, this decision is worth a read.
The issue of reimbursement of the costs of a forced channel change is one that comes up in numerous upgrade applications. A station that wants to upgrade its facilities can ask the FCC to change the channel of another FM station to clear room on the dial for that upgrade – and that other station can be moved on the FM dial even if it does not want to change its channel. The FCC will order the other station to change channels as long as the upgrade proponent is able to find another channel for that station which is technically feasible at that station’s current transmitter site and is fully-spaced under the FCC rules governing required mileage separations between FM stations. Unless there is a unique issue about the channel to which the forced station is being moved, there are very few objections that can be raised to one of these involuntary channel changes. However, the station that is upgrading has an obligation to reimburse the changing station for all of the costs of the forced relocation. Continue Reading