The FCC yesterday issued a Public Notice announcing that it will in fact be opening a window for the filing of applications for new reserved-band noncommercial FM stations (those stations operating in the portion of the FM band below 92.1 FM, which is reserved for noncommercial educational broadcasters). We anticipated that this window was coming in our articles here and here. In yesterday’s Public Notice, the FCC asked for comments on its proposal to limit any applicant to ten applications nationwide in the upcoming window. The window will open probably next year, after the FCC resolves this question on the maximum number of applications in which one party can have an interest.
The ten-application limit has been used by the FCC in the past to limit the number of applications filed in the window to hopefully speed processing times and avoid some situations where applications end up being mutually exclusive with each other (i.e., where some of the applications filed cannot be granted without creating destructive technical interference to each other, causing the FCC to have to use their point system analysis to determine which application to grant – see our articles here and here on the point system). Of course, limiting the number of applications could have the unintended impact of preventing some parties from filing applications in smaller markets and rural areas, saving their applications for areas in which they are likely to reach the most people. In the Public Notice, the FCC asks for comments as to the impact of a ten-application limit and whether some other number (or no maximum at all) would be more appropriate. Comments on this proposal will be due 15 days after this Notice is published in the Federal Register and Reply Comments will be due 25 days after that publication.