The Agenda for next week’s FCC meeting includes the consideration of 76 groups of mutually exclusive applications for new noncommercial FM stations. Many of the 200 or so applications contained in these groups have been pending at the FCC for almost 10 years. Several years ago, the FCC adopted a point system to resolve cases involving these applications as many of the applications were mutually exclusive – meaning that technical considerations prevented more than one of the applications in each of these groups from being granted. The point system awards each application points for perceived positive attributes such as being owned by a local organization or being part of a state-wide educational broadcasting network. The adoption of the point system was supposed to speed the processing of these applications, and many such applications were granted using the point system before the processing seemingly stopped last year. If the remaining applications are all dealt with next week as announced, this should clear the way for the opening of a new window for the filing of applications for new noncommercial FM stations.
As it has been years since such a window last opened, the FCC expects that there is significant pent-up demand for new noncommercial stations, and that many applications will be filed. Questions remain as to when the window will open (we are hearing Fall of 2007), and if there will be any sort of limit on the number of applications that can be filed. Watch for further information on a noncommercial filing window in the coming months.