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.

  • The FCC announced the circulation for Commissioner review and approval of two decisions of interest to broadcasters, signifying that we

Last week, the FCC adopted an order making numerous changes to its processes for selecting winning applicants among mutually-exclusive applicants for new noncommercial broadcast stations, including noncommercial, reserved band full power FM stations and LPFMs. Applicants are “mutually exclusive” when their technical proposals are in conflict – meaning that if one is granted it would create interference to the other so that the other cannot also be allowed to operate. The changes adopted by the FCC, which we wrote about when first proposed here, affect not only the process of applying for new noncommercial stations and the system for resolving conflicts, but also address the holding period for new stations once construction permits are granted, and the length of permits for LPFM stations.

In cases involving mutually exclusive applications for new noncommercial stations, the FCC uses a “points system” to determine which of the mutually-exclusive applicants should have its application granted. The point system relies on paper hearings to determine which applicant has the most points, awarding preferences on factors such as whether they have fewer interests in other broadcast facilities, whether they are local organizations, and whether they are part of state-wide networks.
Continue Reading FCC Adopts Changes to Rules for New Noncommercial FM and LPFM Stations – Changing Application Processing Procedures and Holding Periods

The FCC this week announced groups of mutually exclusive (“MX”) LPFM applications, i.e. those groups where applications are for the same or adjacent channels where the grant of one application in the group would preclude other applications in that same group.  The Public Notice is here, and the list of MX groups is here.  The importance of the FCC’s announcement for LPFM applicants is that it gives the applicants 60 days, until February 14, 2014, to amend their applications to make minor changes that will resolve the MX situations (e.g. moving to an adjacent or IF channel or making a slight site change that will eliminate the interference with the other applications that would result if the applications were granted as they now stand). 

Applications left in the MX group at the end of the 60 day period will be subject to a “point system” analysis, granting the application which has the highest number of points in the FCC’s system for deciding between mutually exclusive applicants (giving points for the following:

  • (1) having an established community presence of at least two years;
  • (2) pledging to originate locally at least eight hours of programming per day;
  • (3) pledging to maintain a publicly accessible main studio that has local program origination capability;
  • (4) certifying that you qualify for a point under both the local program origination and the main studio criteria;
  • (5) certifying that neither you nor any party to your application has an attributable interest in another broadcast station; and
  • (6) being a Tribal Applicant proposing to locate your transmitting antenna site on your Tribal Lands).

Note that no amendment that is filed now can improve an applicants comparative position under these point system criteria.  Applicants are locked into the points that they claimed when they initially filed their applications. 
Continue Reading FCC Announces MX Groups for LPFM Applications – Amendments Possible, So Full-Power FMs Should be Watchful

The LPFM applications are in, and counted, and the FCC is actively processing them.  A recent public notice from the FCC about the processing of these applications puts FM broadcasters on notice that they should be checking what was filed in their market areas to make sure that there are no interference issues for their full-power stations or existing translators  The FCC’s public notice about the processing of LPFM applications is available here

 As you will see, the FCC is first looking to identify “singleton” applications, i.e. those that are not subject to any competing applications.  Once the FCC determines that an application is a singleton, its status in the FCC database will change from the application simply having been “received” to it having been “accepted for filing.”   The acceptance for filing triggers a 30 day petition to deny period, during which broadcasters can object to potential interference from the LPFM or for other violations of the FCC rules on LPFM.  Broadcasters should be looking at local applications, for issues like second-adjacent channel waivers or other issues so that objections can be filed during the petition to deny window against those applications that might be troublesome. 
Continue Reading FCC Processing of LPFM Applications Continues – FM Broadcasters Beware of Potential Interference Issues