noncommercial educational station

In a decision issued last week, the FCC ruled on 6 applications for LPFM stations from the last LPFM window, dismissing all of them, and warning potential applicants in the upcoming LPFM window to pay attention to the decision so that they can avoid similar issues with their applications. The dismissal of four applicants was the result of those applicants not being legally registered as nonprofit corporations in their states at the time of the FCC filing of their FCC applications. One applicant was dismissed for failing to respond to a Commission request for information in a timely basis. The dismissal of another was upheld based on the applicant’s failure to obtain reasonable assurance of the availability of its transmitter site prior to the submission of its application. These decisions thus resulted in 6 applicants losing their chance to operate LPFM stations in their markets.

Incorporation at the time of filing was deemed important in four cases for different reasons. In connection with two applicants, the failure to be incorporated was deemed fatal to the applications as the application requires a certification at the time of filing that the applicant is either incorporated or in some other form recognized by state law as an existing nonprofit educational entity (or that it is a governmental organization). That existing noncommercial status is required by law. Both applicants falsely certified that they had been incorporated at the time of filing, when in fact they had not. As they had not met the statutory mandate at the time of filing, they were dismissed. In the third case, a group tried to claim that its pre-incorporation activities qualified it as “an unincorporated organization” under state law. But the FCC found that the pre-incorporation activities were simply organizational in nature, and did not qualify the group for a license. 


Continue Reading LPFM Decisions Upholding Dismissal of Several Applicants Give Warning to Applicants in Upcoming Window

The FCC has once again proposed a $10,000 fine against a college radio station missing quarterly issues/program lists in the public inpsection file.  This time, the culprit is Rollins College, a small liberal arts college in Florida with 1700 students. 

We know that $10,000 is the "base forfeiture" for failure to maintain a complete public inspection file, and this is not the first time the FCC has proposed this fine for a college radio station.  But we have questioned before whether a $10,000 fine is appropriate for this type of violation and the amount seems even more egregious when it is levied against a small noncommercial educational college radio station.  It is the same fine that would be levied against a major commercial television network station located in New York City for the same violation.

Yes, rules are rules and they should be followed by all FCC licensed broadcast stations.  But as Dave Seyler notes in a thoughtful piece written for Radio Business Report, it may not be in the best interests of the federal government to "siphon money out of our educational system."  In this case, as in other similar cases, the college received no warning following an FCC inspection…just the fine. 


Continue Reading Does $10,000 Fine Make Sense for Small College Radio Station Missing Public File Documents?

The Digital Television conversion has allowed the FCC to reclaim significant portions of the TV spectrum for wireless and public safety uses – television channels above 51 will no longer be used for broadcast TV at the end of the analog to digital transition.  But, as part of the FCC’s Diversity proceeding (see our post here), a proposal dealing with the other end of the TV spectrum is being considered – whether to remove Channels 5 and 6 from the television band and instead use these channels for FM radio.  These channels are adjacent to the lower end of the FM band.  Because of this adjacency, the existence of TV Channel 6 in a market can limit the use of the lowest end of the FM band (used for Noncommercial Educational stations) to avoid interference to the TV station.  Similarly, Channel 6’s audio can be heard on many FM radio receivers, a fact that has recently been used by some LPTV operators to use their stations to deliver an audio service that can be received by FM radios (see our post on this subject).  In comments filed in the Diversity proceeding, parties have taken positions all across the spectrum – from television operators who have opposed using the channel for anything but television, to those suggesting that the channels be entirely cleared of television users and turned into a digital radio service.  Proposals also suggest using the band for LPFM operations, and even for clearing the AM band by assigning AM operators to this band to commence new digital operations.

In comments that our firm submitted on behalf of a group of noncommercial FM radio licensees who also rebroadcast their signals on a number of FM translator stations, we suggested that Channel 6 could provide a home for LPFM operations, instead of trying to squeeze those stations into the existing FM band.  There are currently proposals to squeeze more LPFM stations into the FM band by supplanting some FM translators (see our summary of some of those proposals here).  In these comments in the Diversity proceeding, we pointed out that, as there are currently radios on the market that receive 87.9, 87.7 and even 87.5, using these three channels for LPFM service would provide an immediate home to these stations, and far more opportunity for than LPFM would have in the already congested FM band.  These opportunities would exist even in most of the largest radio markets in the country, except in the handful of markets where a Channel 6 television station will continue to operate after the digital transition.  By adopting this proposal, the service that would be provided by FM translators would not be threatened. 


Continue Reading What to Do With TV Channels 5 and 6 – Proposals to Turn Them Over to Radio Services