The FCC Order announcing a simplification of the procedures for changing cities of licenses of radio stations, and the modification of procedures for amending the FM Table of Allotments, was published in the Federal Register today.  Thus, the new rules will become effective in 30 days, on January 19.  The freeze on FM allotment changes that has been in place for the last year and a half will be lifted on that date.

Substantial questions remain about how these new rules will be implemented in practice.  Informal conversations with FCC staffers have indicated that further explanations of the procedures may be forthcoming.  Issues in the new rules include the fact that only 4 stations may be changed in any single, interrelated filing, which may hamper some of the larger, more complicated facilities changes that have become common over the last few years – and which allow many stations to improve their facilities through interrelated changes. 

There are also issues with city of license changes for noncommercial FM stations, as the new rules as written limit city of license changes to situations where the 1 mv/m contour of the station when moved would overlap with some part of the 1 mv/m service area of the station as currently licensed.  In other services, the limits are that the move must be mutually exclusive with the present facilities (e.g. the interfering and protected contours of the stations would overlap). 

Also, the FCC has not yet released new forms for the filing of city of license changes as minor changes.  The FCC construction permit forms (301 for commercial stations, and 340 for noncommercial stations) are supposed to be amended to reflect the rule changes, but have not yet been released.

These and many other questions remain to be answered by the FCC before full use can be made of the new rules.  Watch for clarifications of these matters in coming weeks.