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FCC Upholds NCE CP in Dubuque 

Vanguard Association of Sunbelt Colleges will build on 88.9

The FCC has upheld a new construction permit for Vanguard Association of Sunbelt Colleges Corp., a Christian education organization, to build a noncom educational Class C3 station on 88.9 MHz in Dubuque, Iowa.

The commission on Friday dismissed a petition for reconsideration from Augustana College, the other applicant in a mutually exclusive group from the 2021 NCE FM filing window.

VASC’s originally selected antenna location, on a tower in Dubuque, is occupied by Iowa Public Radio’s 89.7 KNSY(FM).

In 2022 Augustana College questioned whether VASC had reasonable site assurance; it also questioned VASC’s financial certification and alleged that VASC was trying to circumvent the NCE window’s 10-application cap.

In February, the commission dismissed Augustana’s petition to deny as well as an informal objection from Iowa Public Radio.

In March Augustana filed a petition for reconsideration. It asserted that the commission had made an error in granting the CP, saying that the correspondence with Crown Castle, the owner of the tower, had never demonstrated an alternative location for the planned antenna.

Augustana provided analysis from an engineer concluding that VASC’s antenna location is “unbuildable.” It asserted that “Vanguard was either reckless or attempting to conceal information” by not updating its application in a timely manner.

Augustana argued that if the commission did allow VASC to choose another location on the tower, it should reevaluate the technical credit allotted in the MX group in a comparative point analysis from the buildable location.

VASC responded by providing correspondence from Crown Castle showing three separate spaces available on the tower, including the selected 252 feet level above the ground, which was the highest. It said that a Crown Castle representative had erred in indicating the space was available. VASC said that it was not trying to conceal information, saying the positions of the KNSY antenna and Vanguard’s proposed antenna were in “plain view.”

VASC addressed Augustana’s argument that the comparative analysis should be readdressed. It said that in terms of a superior technical proposal, where neither application received a point, the final analysis would not change, as the area and population covered within its new 60 dBu contour would remain less than a 10 percent differential.

In March VASC filed an amendment to its application with a new location 190 feet up on the Dubuque tower; and it said that any conflict with IPR had been resolved.

Augustana responded by saying the length of time between its petition to deny and VASC’s amendment showed a “reckless regard for the commission’s rules.”

But the FCC has sided with VASC. Even though the Crown Castle representative had provided incorrect information about available tower space, the Media Bureau said that VASC had sought reasonable site assurance, and the bureau considers the March modification “minor.” It also concluded that based on the revised service area and population figures from the lower antenna location, the MX group points system analysis remained unchanged.

So Augustana College’s petition is denied and the FCC has granted VASC its noncom CP.

The organization seeks to broadcast Christian educational programming with a directional Class C3 signal on 88.9 FM serving Dubuque and areas to the northwest along the Mississippi River in Iowa and adjacent Wisconsin.

(Read the commission’s decision.)