In the last month, the FCC has released two decisions dealing with efforts by holders of expiring FM construction permits to retain the rights to construct the technical facilities authorized by that permit beyond the expiration date of the permit. In one case, the FCC announced a policy that, from now on, the construction of temporary facilities will be insufficient to warrant the grant of a license application for a new station. In another case, the FCC decided that a station that had an expiring construction permit for modified facilities to upgrade its station from a Class C1 to a Class C0 station, which had twice expired before and been replaced by a new CP each time, was subject to a competing applications filed the day after the expiration of the most recent CP. It is clear from these cases that the FCC’s Audio Division is taking a hard line on the three year deadline on the construction of new facilities for FM stations, and is reluctant to preserve expiring permits, especially if the permit blocks opportunities for the use of the frequency elsewhere.

The first case involved a permittee of a new station who, immediately before the expiration of the three years that it was given by its construction permit to build the station, turned it on and filed a license application that was quickly granted by the FCC. About 10 days later, the new licensee requested authority to go silent while it sought approval of its construction plans for a permanent facility. The station remained silent for almost a year, before recommencing temporary operations from a different transmitter site pursuant to an STA. When the licensee filed for the renewal of its license and another application to move to a different transmitter site and to change city of license, a competitor objected, arguing that the licensee had misrepresented facts to the FCC about whether its station was ready for its initial operations from its original site and contending that the original license should never have been granted.
Continue Reading FCC Takes Hard Line on Efforts to Keep Alive Expiring Construction Permits for Both New FM Stations and Modifications of Existing Stations