The FCC today released its further Public Notice in connection with FCC Auction No. 93, which offers for sale 119 construction permits for new FM radio stations in various communities across the country.  Further details about the auction can be found in our earlier post here as well as on the Commission’s auction page here.  In all, 145 applicants

Just a reminder to broadcast stations in certain states of several upcoming February obligations.  First up, February 1st is the deadline for Radio Stations in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi to file their FCC Form 303-S license renewal applications seeking a renewal of their broadcast licenses.  (See our earlier license renewal advisory for more information about the FCC’s

Changing the city of license of an AM or FM station is getting more difficult, based on recent FCC decisions.  As we have written before, the FCC’s Rural Radio order changed the manner in which the FCC reviews city of license changes.  In connection with any proposed city of license change, the FCC reviews the proposal to make sure that the change will result in a favorable arrangement of allotments, making sure that the distribution of radio channels is in the public interest.  In making that decision, the FCC has relied on a series of priorities – first insuring that all areas of the country get at least two radio reception services (Priority 1 was to provide service to "white areas" that currently receive no radio service at all, Priority 2 was to provide a second reception service to all areas).  The next priority was to provide as many communities as possible with their first "transmission service", i.e. a station licensed to that community that would have a primary responsibility to address its needs and interests.  Finally, if there was no proposal to provide a first or second reception service or a first local transmission service, the FCC  looked at Priority 4 factors, i.e. other public interest matters.  In the past, service to a greater number of people itself was a Priority 4 consideration.  Based on a case released last week, service to a greater population apparently is no longer be viewed as justification for the change in the city of license of a radio station – even if the proposed move is from a rural community that already has a significant amount of service to a similarly well served urbanized area and results in a significant increase in the population served by the station.

The Rural Radio order changed the Priority 3 preference for a first transmission service by determining that any proposal for a city of license within an urbanized area would be viewed as being a proposal for service to the entire urbanized area (meaning that, instead of being a first local service to a named community, all the stations in the urbanized area would be considered as serving the same city). Thus, a proposal to take a station from a rural area (e.g. proposing to take the third radio station from some smaller rural town) to a city without a service in a urbanized area would no longer be viewed as providing the first local transmission service to the suburban community (but would instead be viewed as being a proposal to provide just another service to a metro area that probably already has many stations that are licensed to the various communities in the urbanized area).  Some had thought that, while Priority 3 would no longer justify such a move, a Priority 4 preference would be available if the move would allow the station to serve a much larger population, and if any loss area was already well served.  In the proposed move discussed last week, the Commission relied on language in the Rural Radio Order that stated that population increases alone would not be enough to justify a city of license change when a station proposed to move into an urbanized area.  In this case, the Commission’s staff found wanting a proposal to move from the well-served community of Boone, Iowa to a community in the Des Moines urbanized area – even though the proposed change would result in service to over 300,000 more people than are currently served by the station – increasing the number of people served by the station from less than 100,000 to over 400,000. The request was not denied outright, but instead the applicant was given another opportunity to supply additional information to demonstrate the public interest benefits that would result from the move. 


Continue Reading FCC Makes Changing City of License of Radio Stations More Difficult

In addition to the normal FCC deadlines for routine filings, January brings the deadline for comments in a number of FCC proceedings, and a filing window for new FM applications.  For TV stations, the Commission recently extended to January 17 the Reply Comment deadline on its proposals (summarized here) for an online public inspection file

The Commission today released its further Public Notice establishing the filing dates and adopting the procedures for the upcoming auction of 119 New FM Radio channels, scheduled to start on March 27, 2012.  The auction has been designated as FM Auction No. 93 and offers vacant FM allotments in various communities across the country.  Although the Commission removed four allotments

Looking for opportunities for a new FM station?  The FCC has just released a list of new FM channels to be auctioned in the next FM auction, scheduled to begin on March 27, 2012, along with the proposed rules for that auction.  On the list of channels, the proposed minimum bid for each channel is also set out.  If the Commission follows the schedule used in prior auctions, we should expect that the deadline for the "short-form" application to participate in the auction (which basically contains information about the ownership of the applicant and a list of the channels in which they are interested) will be due in early 2012, likely sometime between January 1 and January 15, 2012.  The upfront payment of the necessary minimum bids would then likely be due around February 20, 2012 or so.  In another Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released late last week, the FCC also proposed to delete a number of FM channels that have gone unsold in previous auctions.

The construction permits for the new stations that will be available in the auction are spread all across the country.  Many are located in large western states including multiple channels in California, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas, among other states.  But there are even opportunities in eastern states like Florida, Vermont and Virginia.  So, if you are interested in starting a station from scratch, look through this list of channels to see if there are opportunities for a construction permit for a new station in which you might be interested.  If you find something that might be interesting, you need to start your due diligence on each channel now, as the bidder is responsible for insuring that the channel for which they are bidding can be built and will serve the audience that the applicant expects.  If you win the auction and decide that you can’t really find a transmitter site, then you may well be on the hook for the full amount of the bid even if you don’t build the station.  And, if you are successful in the auction, you will have to have an available transmitter site to specify in your "long-form" application about a month after the end of the auction – an application which will specify all of the technical details of the new station.  So look at zoning issues, FAA considerations, coverage questions, and even whether technical details like the rural radio order limiting move-ins of FM stations from rural to more urban areas, may limit the potential economic value of the channel in which you are interested. 


Continue Reading Auction for New FM Stations Scheduled for March – Look for Filing Deadline Late This Year – FCC Also Proposes Deletion of Channels for Which No Bids Were Received

Changing the city of license of a broadcast station was made more difficult by the FCC’s rural radio order.  That order, about which we wrote here, imposed substantial obstacles on broadcasters attempting to move their stations from rural areas into urbanized areas – making such moves difficult if not impossible in many cases. 

Just a reminder that radio stations in North Carolina and South Carolina are up next in the license renewal cycle, which means that pre-filing announcements for radio stations in these states must start on June 1st.  The announcements continue on June 16, July 1, and July 16, for a total of four pre-filing announcements.