In November, the FCC adopted an Order limiting to 10 the number of FM translators from the 2003 translator filing window that a single applicant could pursue. This Order was adopted by the Commission at the urging of LPFM advocates who believed that the large number of FM translator applications filed in 2003 foreclosed some opportunities for new low power FM stations (see our description of the Order here). Last week, the FCC released a Public Notice telling translator applicants to choose which 10 applications that they will continue to prosecute. Applicants have until April 3 to make that choice and notify the Commission of their choice. If no choice is made by that date, the FCC will continue to process the first 10 applications that were on file, dismissing any remaining applications by that applicant.
The Commission is expecting to then continue to process the remaining applications, opening a settlement window after the dismissal process is complete so that the remaining applicants can sort out possible engineering solutions or other settlements that would resolve conflicts between remaining mutually exclusive applications. However, there are a number of Petitions for Reconsideration that were filed against the Order establishing the 10 application limit (including one filed by our firm on behalf of a number of clients). We’ll see if the Commission takes any action on the Reconsideration petitions (and an accompanying Petition for Stay of the selection deadline) or if the Commission marches on and continues to process these applications. For now, applicants should be ready to make their selections on or before April 3.
Note that the FCC requires hard copies of the dismissal letters, rather than some sort of electronic filing. So be sure to allow time for the delivery of such selections. Also note that the Public Notice does not define "applicant." Is an applicant a company or individual, or do all of the FCC’s attribution rules apply to this limit? No guidance whatsoever is provided by the FCC’s Public Notice. Perhaps these issues will also be addressed by the FCC at some point prior to the deadline.