At its open meeting this morning, the FCC unanimously adopted a Report and Order streamlining the process of modifying the community of license for FM and AM stations. According to the comments at this morning’s meeting, and the Commisison’s News Release, the Order will do the following:
- Allow AM and FM stations to seek a community of license change on a first-come, first-serve basis on an FCC Form 301 minor modification application. Previously, AM stations were required to wait for a filing window, and FM stations had to endure a rule making proceeding before it could file a change to the community of license. Such changes will be allowed on a Form 301 application if they are mutually exclusive with the station’s daytime facilities, and must include a 307(b) showing demonstrating that the change in community is in the public interest.
- Require local public notice by FM stations to both the community it is moving into and the community that it is leaving. The proposed community of license changes will also be published in the Federal Register and no action will be taken for 60 days in order to allow for public comment.
- These community of license procedures will extend to noncommercial educational licensees as well.
- The rule making filing fee will be required at the time that an applicant files a Form 301 application.
- Allow electronic filing for allotment proceedings.
- Defers consideration of a limit on the number of proposals that can be filed simultaneously until the Media Bureau can evaluate the impact of the new rules.
- Leaves unchanged the current case-by-case review of proposals to relocate a community’s sole local service to be another community’s first local service.
- And finally, the freeze on FM rule makings will be lifted when the new rules become effective, which will be 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
In addition to lifting the freeze that has been in place for a year and a half, this streamlining Order will greatly accelerate the process of modifying a station’s community of license. Previously, the two-step process of a rule making followed by an application for the change of community of license of an FM station took an estimated two years to complete. Such changes for AM stations took twice that time, due to the fact that applicants had to wait for the FCC to open a filing window for such changes. More details will be available once the text of the Order is released, so check back in the future.