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FCC Denies Request for Second Local Service

An applicant also looked to amend the commission’s FM Table of Allotments

The Media Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission has denied an applicant’s request to provide second local service to a community in Mississippi.

SSR Communications requested that the FCC amend the FM Table of Allotments by allowing Channel 284A in Bruce, Miss., to serve as a second local and first competing FM service.

According to the FCC’s FM assignment policies and procedures, there are four priorities when it comes to determining FM allotments: first fulltime aural service, second fulltime aural service, first local service and then, finally, other public interest matters. The rules also say that equal weight is given to priorities two and three.

Since Bruce is an incorporated community with a census population of 1,707 people and thus sufficient for allotment purposes, SSR said, it requested that the Media Bureau allot this channel to the community. SSR also said it would participate in a future commission FM spectrum auction for a new permit at Bruce and, if it is found to be the winning bidder, would promptly begin building the station. 

But the Media Bureau rejected SSR’s requests on several grounds.

First it found that the petition for rulemaking and the application that SSR filed is technically defective. An engineering report commissioned by the bureau found that the proposed 70 dB contour suggested by SSR would not provide 100% city-grade coverage to Bruce as required by FCC rules. 

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The bureau also found that SSR’s proposal to use this vacant allotment as “backfill” to prevent the removal of first local service at Bruce violates the commission’s backfill policy.

In its Rural Radio proceeding, the commission said, it clarified what constitutes “reception service” for purposes of gain and loss analysis of areas in the context of a community license change. The commission rejected the use of potential services — such as vacant allotments — in gain and loss calculations, finding that for purposes of those calculations applicants should not count vacant FM allotments. (At the time, the commission decided to include unbuilt construction permits but to exclude vacant allotments.)

 “Our increased scrutiny of reception service in gain and loss areas requires that we evaluate actual, rather than hypothetical service,” the commission said in its 2012 order on reconsideration. 

SSR, as an auction winner, cannot use this proposed vacant allotment as a backfill, the bureau said. As a result, SSR’s petition and its application were dismissed by the Media Bureau.