The FCC has just announced an auction for approximately 43 translators left over from the 2003 FM translator window (see proposed auction procedures here, and list of mutually exclusive applicants here). The auction is scheduled to begin in June. These applications are mutually exclusive applications left over from that 2003 window, where the parties did not settle during the settlement window that the FCC opened several years ago (see our article here) and which were not dismissed when the Commission retroactively imposed limits on how many applications filed in the window from any applicant the Commission would process (see our article here). These contentious issues, involving a determination of the priorities to be accorded LPFM stations and FM translators, took the FCC many years to resolve, postponing this auction for so long.
We would expect that this delayed auction is a very unusual circumstance, and applications that may be mutually exclusive in the recent and upcoming windows for filing for FM translators for AM stations, will be resolved much more quickly as the underlying basic issues have generally been resolved. When we will see an open window for new FM translators, not tied to AM stations, is anyone’s guess at this point, but we know that at some point later this year, we should see a number of new translators both from this auction and from the windows for AM stations.