The FCC yesterday issued a Public Notice announcing that it was rescheduling the filing window for new Low Power FM stations that had been scheduled for early November – moving the window to December. Applications now can be filed between 12:01 AM Eastern Time on December 6, 2023 and 6:00 PM ET on December 13, 2023. The FCC stated that a group of low power advocates had requested the extension to give applicants more time to prepare their applications. The FCC warns in the Public Notice that this deadline will be strictly enforced – so don’t expect any leniency for any application that does not meet the 6 PM deadline on December 13.
Note that this extension also extends the freeze that the FCC imposed on LPFM and FM translator minor modifications. That freeze, imposed to provide LPFM applicants with a static database from which to work in planning their applications, will now run through December 13.
We wrote more about the criteria that applicants for new LPFM stations must meet in our article here that looked at the rules that apply to this filing window. This includes the requirement that the applicant be a local nonprofit educational organization, tribal group, or state and local governments providing a public safety service. Applicants must submit by the deadline all claims for the “points” that are used by the FCC to decide whose application to grant if there are mutually exclusive applications, i.e., applications which, if granted, would cause impermissible interference to each other. Additional filing requirements are set out in our article and in the FCC Public Notice issued this summer which set out the rules governing applications in this window. And a recent FCC staff decision indicates that applications must be signed by an officer or director in order to be valid. These and other issues should be discussed with counsel before submitting an application during the filing window.
We’ve also warned full-power FM operators to watch the filings in this window, as LPFM applicants can request waivers of predicted interference to second-adjacent channel full-power stations, by making a showing that the public interest would be served by a waiver of the interference rules. Full power stations potentially affected by such waiver requests should carefully review the showings made to ensure that there is no meaningful interference that may be caused by the proposed LPFM operation.
So, LPFM applicants now have a little more time to prepare their applications, and FM translator applicants that need to modify their facilities will need to wait a little longer. LPFM applicants would be wise to file early in the window to avoid any last-minute issues that may arise.