buried deep in the type-heavy releases known as the daily Public Notices issued
by the Federal Communications Commission, simple single-sentence statements
turn out to be complicated, real-world broadcasting tribulations.
week, two eyebrow-raising memos were of particular note. They were rescinded
notices for two LPFM license applications. They are located more than 2,100
miles apart in two cities that probably couldn’t be less like one another: one
for a low-power FM license in Decatur, Ga., the other for one in North Hollywood,
But from here on, there are more similarities than
differences. In both cases, it seems that the license application grants were
rescinded based on allegations that no antenna or tower had actually been
constructed. In both cases, the application was returned to “pending status” awaiting
some sort of response from the licensees themselves.
Solutions Counseling Ministries in Decatur, the journey started smoothly. Able Solutions
submitted an application in 2014 for a new low-power station, WJEU(LP), to be
built in this southern town of 20,000. The first hiccup occurred on Jan. 27 of
this year when the Media Bureau wrote to Able Solutions that a recent engineering
study revealed that its submitted proposal failed to meet minimum tower and
antenna height requirements. (The study found that the proposed facility would
create an average 60 dBu contour distance of 3.2 km, even though the minimum
required contour distance is 4.7 km.) As a result, the application was
Two weeks later, Dickey Broadcasting submitted a
petition for reconsideration to the FCC, asking that it rescind the Able Solutions
license due to “lack of candor and misrepresentation.”
to Dickey, which owns three FM stations and several translators in Georgia,
Able Solutions filed an application for an LPFM license and certified that the
facility was constructed as authorized. This application was signed by Charles
Walton, president and CEO of Able Solutions Counseling Ministries.
on Feb. 17, broadcast engineer Gary Kline visited the site and, according to
the Dickey filing, did not locate an antenna of any kind, nor hear any audible
broadcast signal from 103.7 MHz, the frequency upon which WJEU is authorized to
broadcast. Dickey stated in its filing: “In this case, the licensee has
breached its duty of candor to the FCC and made material misrepresentations in
its application by claiming that its antenna facility has been constructed when
it plainly has not been.”
Dickey also questioned the FCC over
its decision to grant the licensee’s application on the exact same day that it
“That was an extremely unusual action by the commission
which, in virtually all other cases, takes a reasonable amount of time to review
and consider applications before acting on them,” the Dickey filing said. “A
license grant in a matter of minutes or, at most hours, after filing is almost
unknown. There is no explanation in the FCC’s online records for WJEU(LP) to justify
that lightning-bolt grant.”
Three weeks later, the FCC rescinded
the grant and said Able Solutions has the opportunity to respond to the
allegations. As of press time, no response has been released. Radio World did not receive a response to its
inquiries for comment from Able Solutions.
On the very next
line of the same Public Notice, a similar story seemed to be playing out in
On March 28, the Media Bureau sent a letter
to Addy Gonzalez at 11:11 A Creative Collective, which is licensee of KQEE(LP)
in North Hollywood, saying that the Enforcement Bureau received an emailed
complaint stating that no station had been constructed in preparation for the
KQEE(LP) broadcast license. When reached via email, 11:11 declined to comment.
this case as well, the Media Bureau rescinded the grant of KQEE’s application
and returned it to pending status, awaiting response from 11:11 A Creative
How common might this be? One observer is
Michelle Bradley, founder of low-power FM advocacy group REC Networks, who
commented about the issue to Radio World in general terms.
said her organization has received reports of construction permits being
covered with subsequent filings of FCC Form 319 forms and sometimes no real
construction has taken place. “We are seeing CP holders who seem to
be filing 319s on or just before the expiration date of the permit in order to
try to ‘save’ the permit, thinking that no one will notice,” she said.
the FCC finds a lack of candor, she said, it will make it difficult for any party
involved in the LPFM station to get an FCC license because they may be required
to disclose the case as an adverse action. “Making false statements to the FCC
is a federal crime and a violation of the rules,” she said.
said she also noticed that the FCC has been holding grants of LPFM license
applications for more than two weeks, when they normally grant them on
Mondays. “I agree with a holding period after a license to cover is filed
so if any parties that have information that disputes the statements made by
the applicant can be entered into the record,” she said.
World has reached out to the FCC about the speed with which LPFM licenses are being
granted and will share any information gleaned.