noncommercial point system

While much of the attention paid to FM translators has recently come from their use to rebroadcast AM stations and the upcoming windows for, first, relocating existing translators to AM markets and, later, a window for new translators for AM stations (see our article here), many forget that there are still many translator applications pending from the 2003 translator window.  While thousands of translators from that window were granted in the last few years (see, e.g., our articles here and here), there are still many pending mutually exclusive applications pending at the FCC.  While the commercial applications that are pending will eventually be resolved through auctions, by law, noncommercial applicants cannot be resolved through auction.  So, yesterday, the FCC released a Public Notice which initiates the process of requiring the remaining noncommercial translator applicants to submit information about their qualifications under the FCC’s point system used to resolve mutual exclusivity between such applicants.  By December 16, 2015, remaining noncommercial applicants need to submit to the FCC, electronically, information about the number of points to which they are entitled under the FCC’s criteria.  Failing to provide that information will lead to the dismissal of the pending application.

In reviewing the notice and the attached list of pending noncommercial applicants, one notes that some of the applicants don’t appear to be noncommercial entities.  But the FCC considers a translator to be noncommercial when that translator rebroadcasts a noncommercial station, regardless of the owner of the translator.  Obviously, however, the applicant who is not itself a commercial entity will not fare well in the point system analysis – likely lacking the ability to claim that it has a local established noncommercial presence with a local board, or part of a state-wide network.  While many of these translators are proposed to be operated on commercial frequencies, applications that are awarded through the point system analysis can only be sold to another noncommercial company that qualifies for the same number of points for a period of 4 years after it begins operations, and then only for its out-of-pocket expenses.  However, the Commission does offer an opportunity to avoid being selected through the point system.
Continue Reading Closing the 2003 FM Translator Window – Mutually Exclusive Noncommercial Applications Set for Resolution by Point System Paper Hearings

Right before Christmas, the FCC’s Media Bureau released a Public Notice announcing that they have reviewed the final set of mutually exclusive LPFM applications.  “Mutually exclusive applications” are applications for stations in the same geographic area which cannot all be granted without creating interference issues. The notice identifies tentative winners selected by the “point system” that the FCC uses to decide between mutually exclusive applicants (or applicants headed for shared time arrangements where they remained tied after the FCC’s “point system” analysis).  The Public Notice lists 96 mutually exclusive groups of LPFM applicants in the Southeast and South Central states.  We wrote in July about a group of Western applications that had already been considered by the FCC, and in September about another group of LPFM applications in the Northeast and North Central states.  So this current notice should be the final major list of LPFM applications that need to be processed by the FCC.  The issuance of this notice gives broadcasters and other interested parties 30 days to file any objections to these proposed new stations.  In addition, applicants can raise issues against each other.  Objections are due on January 22

The notice also sets a 90 day window for LPFM applicants whose applications are listed in this notice to file applications to make changes in their applications – including major changes to new frequencies or different transmitter sites.  Applicants who were not the tentative winners in the FCC’s consideration of the mutually exclusive groups have another shot to get FCC permission to construct a new LPFM station, if they can find an open frequency in the next 90 days.  Those amendments are due by March 23, but are often filed earlier as they are treated by the FCC on a first come, first served basis.  Broadcasters need to watch these amendments, as they could pose interference issues for full-power FM stations on channels not previously proposed for use by any LPFM applicant. 
Continue Reading FCC Issues Public Notice on Mutually Exclusive LPFM Applications in the Southeast US – Deadlines for Petitions to Deny and Amendments to Applications

Another set of mutually exclusive LPFM applications have been reviewed and tentative point system winners (or applicants headed for shared time arrangements where they remained tied after the FCC’s “point system” analysis) have been determined by the FCC.  These determinations involve 111 mutually exclusive groups of LPFM applicants, mostly east of the Mississippi.  We wrote two months ago about a group of Western applications that had already been considered by the FCC.  The issuance of this notice gives broadcasters 30 days to file any objections to these proposed new stations.  In addition, applicants can raise issues against each other.  All objections are due on October 6

The notice also sets a 90 day window for LPFM applicants whose applications were under consideration in this notice to file applications to make changes in their applications – including major changes to new frequencies or different transmitter sites.  So applicants who were not the tentative winners in the FCC’s consideration of the mutually exclusive groups have another shot to get the rights to construct a station, if they can find an open frequency in the next 90 days.  And broadcasters need to watch these amendments, as they could pose interference issues on entirely new channels not previously proposed for use by any LPFM applicant. 
Continue Reading FCC Announces Tentative Winners for 111 Groups of Mutually Exclusive LPFM Applications – FM Broadcasters Have 30 Days to Raise Interference Objections

Last week, we wrote about a Commission decision that said that only one application in a noncommercial MX Group can be granted even if, when the first is granted, there are other applications in that group that would not be mutually exclusive with (i.e. would not create any prohibited interference to) the winning applicant.  While

A decision released by the FCC’s Media Bureau staff this week makes clear that the permittee of a noncommercial station, who was awarded the permit based on a 307(b) preference, cannot change transmitter sites so as to abandon service to the area that it promised to cover in order to get the preference –

An FCC decision in a case involving two applicants for a construction permit to construct a new noncommercial television station in Tulsa illustrated an interesting dilemma that can arise from the application of the "point" system that is used to decide comparative cases for new noncommercial stations. We wrote about the point system, here.  In this

In its Public Notice setting out the rules governing the upcoming filing window for applicants seeking new noncommercial FM stations or major changes in existing stations, which we wrote about here, the FCC has put applicants on notice of the many requirements that must be met in order to have an application considered in the upcoming process.  This is the first opportunity in this century for the filing of applications for new noncommercial FM stations. In order to participate, all applicants must make sure that they follow the rules set out by the Commission.  Applications will be due in a filing window that will open on October 12 and close on October 19.

Fundamentally, the FCC’s Public Notice reminds interested parties that, to be eligible, an applicant must be a noncommercial entity – a nonprofit corporation or a governmental organization.  Individual applicants or profit-making entities cannot participate.  As eligibility to participate and the comparative qualifications of all applicants are assessed at the time of filing, applicants need to assure their nonprofit status is in order before the upcoming filing window.

The Commission also sets out a number of other requirement for the applications that may be filed during the window. Applications submitted during the window will be filed electronically on FCC Form 340, and must contain very specific technical descriptions of the service they plan. The proposal must specify facilities that don’t interfere with other existing stations or pending “cut-off” noncommercial applications. The applicant must have received reasonable assurance of the availability of its proposed transmitter site (i.e. a legally binding contract is not necessary, but a commitment from the site owner that the site will be available and an idea of the terms on which that availability is premised must be obtained). 


Continue Reading Details on the Noncommercial Filing Window