Channel 6 of the television band is immediately adjacent to the lower end of the FM band. Noncommercial FM radio stations, located at the lower end of the FM band (88.1 FM to 91.9), have the potential to interfere with television stations on that channel. Thus, FCC rules require that noncommercial FM stations protect Channel 6 stations that are in their area, often limiting their power unless they can work out interference agreements with the local TV station. As the FCC has tried to vacate Channel 6 as part of the digital transition, some noncommercial FM applicants, including some who filed during the recent filing window for new Noncommercial FM stations, have filed applications seeking construction permits at power levels that ignore the Channel 6 station, on the theory that, by the time the noncommercial station is on the air, the TV station will have vacated Channel 6. In a decision issued on Friday, the Commission rejected one such application, finding that the acceptance of the application premised on an event that has not yet occurred would be unfair to potential applicants who were waiting to file applications until the television stations actually changed channels.
The decision, in a footnote, noted another problematic issue raised by these applications. As only some applicants filed their applications in the recent NCE window premised on the disappearance of the Channel 6 TV stations, those that had not take that tact would be at a comparative disadvantage in assessing their applications under the NCE selection criteria. As the comparative position of NCE applicants was supposed to have been frozen at the time the window applications were filed, those relying on a future event would seem to get an unfair advantage. Thus, it appears that, in time, similar actions will be taken with respect to other similarly situated applicants, clearing up a source of concern or consternation for many who filed during that window.