The processing of the FM translator applications left over from the 2003 translator window marches on. The FCC today announced the window for long form applications for all the translator applications that are no longer mutually exclusive with other applicants. The FCC has asked for long-form applications for these 1239 applications (filed on Form 349 and providing more detailed legal and technical information about the applicant and its proposed operation) to be filed by August 30. The FCC Public Notice about this filing deadline is here. The list of applications that are identified as singletons are here.
Many of these applications are those that filed technical amendments in the recent settlement window eliminating mutual exclusivity with other applications. There are 1239 such applications that could be granted as a result of this action, on top of the applications already identified as "singletons" before the settlement window (see our article here), and perhaps others still subject to FCC processing. The remaining applications, who were not able to resolve mutual exclusivity with other applicants, will end up in an auction at some point in the future.
In the long-forms, the applicant may make minor changes to its technical facilities that were specified in the tech box on the original application. However, these changes, if made in a market that the FCC deemed spectrum-limited for purposes of LPFM availability, must contain a "preclusion study" showing that they will not impact LPFM opportunities in their markets. Any changes are also secondary to any application filed in the upcoming LPFM window.
That last matter should be noted by all translator applicants. In the June 17 public notice announcing the upcoming LPFM window (about which we wrote here), the FCC stated that the new LPFM applicants, who will be submitting their applications in October, had to protect existing translator stations and applications that were on file as of the date of the LPFM window public notice. Details about that statement were not provided, but this public notice makes clear that applications filed in the LPFM window will have precedence over any application that is amended in this window (or any other translator minor change for existing stations that was filed after the LPFM window was announced). It is hard to believe that applicants who were pending for over 10 years may have even very minor changes precluded by applications that are not yet filed, but that seems to be the decision of the Commission.
The announcement of all these new translators will no doubt also trigger interests from broadcasters who are looking for stations to retransmit AM signals or those of FM HD-2 signals. Obviously, there may be some trading going on. So, even if you don’t have an application on the list, it may be worth your time to review the list, and to watch what happens in your market.