The next step in processing of the translators from the 2003 FM translator window is now upon us. The FCC has asked for major market translator applications – those in the "Appendix A markets" (essentially the top 150 Arbitron markets and a few additional ones in which numerous translator applications were filed) and those within 39 km of the grid used in these markets to determine whether future LPFM stations would be available – to file "preclusion studies" in a window between April 1 and April 19. A list of the applications that have to provide such showings can be found here. A preclusion study is a showing that the grant of the proposed translator will not unduly impact LPFM opportunities in that market. The FCC public notice provides the methodology for making such showings as well.
This is one more step toward the clearing of the 2003 translator backlog. Already, as we’ve written, 700 rural applications have been proposed for grant. Next steps include the formal identification by the FCC of what applications are mutually exclusive with each other, and the opening of a settlement window. Eventually, those applicants not being granted as "singletons" (ones not mutually exclusive with other applications), or as a result of the settlement window, will head to an auction. And the FCC is still shooting for a window in which applications for new LPFM stations can be filed in October. By then, most translators that will have to be protected by LPFM applicants should be identified by the processes that the FCC is going through now. Stay tuned as this long-running saga goes through its final episodes in the next few months.
Update, 3/18/2013 – The FCC just released another public notice detailing what it expects from Preclusion Studies.