Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.
May is somewhat lighter on broadcast regulatory dates and deadlines than some recent months, but there are still dates to note. Among other things, the FCC will begin the process of auctioning 140 construction permits for new AM and FM radio stations across the country. Also, broadcasters in several states, with an eye on the June 1 deadline, should be preparing now to file applications for license renewal or to prepare and upload to their public inspection file EEO public file reports, demonstrating their compliance with the FCC’s equal employment opportunity requirements. So let’s take a look at some of the important dates for May (and early June). As always, be sure to consult with your communications counsel on the dates and deadlines applicable to your operation.
The Auction 109 window for “short-form” applications to participate in the auction of 136 FM construction permits and 4 AM construction permits began at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time on April 28 and will close at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time on May 11. By that deadline, interested parties must file with the FCC their short-form applications (FCC Form 175) setting out information including their ownership and the channels on which they are interested in bidding. The auction is scheduled to begin on July 27. A freeze on the filing of FM minor modification applications remains in effect until the end of the auction filing window. This freeze was imposed to ensure that Commission staff and auction bidders have a stable database to work with during the auction. Read more about the auction and freeze, here and here.
Continue Reading May Regulatory Dates: Auction Applications for AM and FM Construction Permits for New Radio Stations, New DTS Rules, License Renewals and More
Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the last week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.
- At the FCC’s regular monthly Open Meeting, the Commissioners voted to adopt new rules mandating sponsorship identification of foreign government-provided
At the end of last week, the FCC released several orders clarifying the rules for upcoming windows where construction permits for new FM channels will be made available to parties interested in starting new radio stations, and a few AM construction permits will also be auctioned off. The Public Notice released on Thursday for commercial operators set the important filing dates and procedural rules for the July auction of 136 FM permits, as well as 4 AM permits in the St. Louis area that are available after an AM licensee whose license was challenged at renewal time surrendered the licenses for these AM stations (see the list of available channels here). The FCC also issued a Public Notice setting a freeze on changes to other FM stations during the initial filing window, to stabilize the FCC’s database for parties interested in these new FM channels. Also on Thursday, the FCC issued a draft order on the number of applications for which applicants will be able to apply in an upcoming reserved-band FM (channels below 92 on the FM band) filing window for noncommercial educational stations (NCE stations).
First, let’s look at the noncommercial draft order that is expected to be adopted at the FCC’s regular monthly Open Meeting on April 22 unless changes are made between now and then. That order, about which we wrote here, asked whether the FCC should adopt a limit of 10 applications in the upcoming window for new noncommercial FMs or for major changes in existing stations. While there were parties that requested that the limit be higher (particularly in rural areas where the likely demand will not be as great), and other parties expressed a belief that the limit should be lower (particularly as there will be few open channels in larger markets), the draft order suggests that the FCC will stick with the limit of 10 applications. The FCC’s intent in adopting an application cap is to reduce processing backlogs and limit the number of situations where applicants will file applications that are mutually exclusive (i.e. where both cannot be granted without creating prohibited interference), while still allowing applicants to provide new noncommercial services throughout the country. According to the draft order, the 10-application limit used in previous NCE windows still makes sense as a happy medium between the competing desires for expanded or narrower limits.
Continue Reading FCC Clarifies Upcoming Windows for Construction Permits for New Commercial and Noncommercial FM Stations (and a Few AMs Too)
Here are some of the regulatory developments of the last week of significance to broadcasters, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.
- The FCC has started planning for its next AM/FM radio auction (Auction 109) scheduled to begin on July 27. Four
The FCC yesterday announced plans to hold an auction to award construction permits allowing the winners to build new radio stations. The auction notice includes 136 FM channels and, in a new wrinkle, 4 AM opportunities, for which bids will be able to be placed once the auction commences. The list of channels to be auctioned is here – with many channels being in the state of Texas, with an assortment of others around the country. These channels are mostly those that had been included in an auction scheduled for last July which was cancelled because of COVID-19 (see our articles here and here). In addition, a few newly available FM channels have been added to the list, as well as 4 AMs in the St. Louis area that are available because a licensee surrendered those licenses after a license renewal challenge.
The notice released yesterday asks for comments on the auction procedures to be used in awarding these channels, proposing procedures that are generally familiar to those who have participated in FM auctions in the past. The auction is tentatively scheduled to begin on July 27. Working backward, that would mean that the initial “short-form” applications required for parties who want to participate in the auction would likely be due sometime in May. Upfront payments equal to or greater than the minimum payments for the channels that an applicant ultimately wins in the auction will probably be due in June.
Continue Reading Want a New Radio Station? FCC Proposes Procedures for a July 2021 Auction, Lists Channels to be Sold, and Imposes a Freeze on Certain Applications
An auction of new FM channels was scheduled to begin in late April (see our posts here and here). Yesterday, the FCC issued a Public Notice indefinitely delaying that auction. Apparently, the FCC needs to have staff physically present in its Washington, DC building in order to conduct an auction, and with the…
On Friday, the FCC released a Public Notice setting out the rules for the auction for new FM channels, which will being in April. We wrote about that auction when it was first announced here. The Public Notice sets out the bidding process for the auction, and the dates for pre-auction filing deadlines necessary to participate in the auction. The notice also rejects several petitions asking that additional channels be added to the auction and one request for a deletion from the auction list. Thus, the channels to be sold in the auction remain the same as originally proposed. A list of the 130 available FM construction permits, with the minimum bid necessary for each of these channels, is available here.
The Public Notice sets out the following pre-auction dates and deadlines that those planning to participate in the auction must observe. These dates are as follows:
- Auction Tutorial Available (via Internet) by January 22, 2020
- Short-Form Application (FCC Form 175) Filing Window Opens January 29, 2020, 12:00 noon Eastern Time (ET)
- Short-Form Application (FCC Form 175) Filing Window Deadline February 11, 2020, 6:00 p.m. ET
- Upfront Payments (via wire transfer) March 20, 2020, 6:00 p.m. ET
- Mock Auction April 24, 2020
- Auction Bidding Begins April 28, 2020
The “short-form” is an application that anyone wishing to participate in the auction must file. This short-form application sets out the channels in which the applicant is interested and some basic information about the applicant. Specific site locations that an applicant wants to protect can also be listed in the short form. Upfront payments are required monetary deposits that must be made by auction participants in amounts sufficient to cover the minimum fees for the channels on which the applicant is interested in bidding. More details on the information required in the forms, and the mechanics of the auction, are set out in the Public Notice which should be carefully reviewed by parties interested in any of these construction permits authorizing the new stations.
Continue Reading FCC Announces Deadlines for the Next Auction for New FM Channels – And a Filing Freeze
It has been many years since the FCC conducted an auction of new FM channels, principally due to its preoccupation with the TV incentive auction. But that is about to change as the FCC announced yesterday that it is planning a new FM auction starting on April 28, 2020, and issued a request for comment on the procedures to be used for the auction. The FCC is taking comment on the proposed auction procedures through November 6, with reply comments due by November 20. 130 vacant channels will be available for bid. The list of vacant channels is available here. Channels will be available across the country, with Texas and Wyoming having the most vacant channels in this auction list.
Working backward from the anticipated April 28 start date and using prior auctions as a guide, initial filings for the channels would likely be due early in the new year. “Upfront” payments equal to or greater than the minimum payments for the channels that an applicant ultimately wins in the auction will probably be due a month or so before the start of the auction. To protect the allotments during an auction, the FCC typically imposes a freeze on the filing of FM modification applications. So be on the alert for an announcement of such a freeze. (Addendum, 10/14/2019 – the Freeze was imposed on Friday – see our post here for details).
Continue Reading FCC Plans Auction in April for the Rights to Build New FM Stations
As we wrote here, the FCC recently adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to consider changes to its rules dealing with applications for new noncommercial educational stations and LPFM stations. The FCC plans to publish that Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register tomorrow, making comments due May 20, 2019,…