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FCC Declines to Expand Four-Station AM Auction

Also lays out procedures for the auction of 136 FM CPs

The Federal Communications Commission has now published the procedures for Auction 109, which will take place in late July and involve 136 FM and four AM construction permits. At the same time, it declined a suggestion that it expand the auction to include every abandoned and deleted AM station in the nation.

An earlier FM auction was postponed last year due to the pandemic and has been canceled; this auction will include all of the permits that were included in the earlier one plus a handful more. The FM CPs are for vacant allotments reflecting channels added to the Table of Allotments.

[Read: FCC Schedules Auction of 136 FM CPs]

The four AM CPs to be auctioned are for stations in the St. Louis area that had their license renewals dismissed by the commission’s administrative law judge in the Entertainment Media Trust case last year.

To facilitate the auction of these four permits, their facilities will be treated as existing “allotments.” Any winning bidder will be limited in its opportunities to modify those AM permits.

The FCC wants to move quickly on the AMs, given that those CPs represent 13% of the AM stations in a top 25 radio market. “The effect of this removal of a significant portion of AM radio service to a major U.S. market supports our conclusion that the public interest favors replacing this service as soon as practicable,” it wrote.

No expansion

The commission, however, declined to make a dramatic expansion in the number of AM facilities in the auction.

One company wanted it to add nine specific facilities that it says have been “abandoned” and their call signs deleted. WTRW Inc. went on to ask that Auction 109 include all AM stations whose call signs have been deleted as well as abandoned AM expanded band facilities that were approved but never built.

The commission declined both requests. It basically said the four stations in St. Louis are a special case that also involves a protective application freeze.

Separately, Tracy K. Wood asked the FCC to add 14 more FM allotments to the list of CPs to be offered. The commission declined that too, saying most of those are among the most recent to be added to the Table of Allotments, but said it will consider offering them in a future auction.

Bidding is to start on July 27. An online auction tutorial is to be scheduled this month. Details are in the latest public notice. The commission also posted the station list and minimum opening bids.