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In NCE Window, FCC Will Cap Apps at 10

Commission expects strong interest in upcoming opportunity

When the Federal Communications Commission opens its filing window for new noncom educational stations in the lower part of the FM band in November, it will limit the number of applications per party to 10.

The commission approved the limit on Thursday, as it was expected to do based on recent statements.

[Read: FM NCE Filing Window Coming in 2021]

 It said the general idea of a cap drew support in filed comments, though opinions varied on the number.

National Public Radio endorsed the 10-application cap. REC Networks and Common Frequency pushed for five. Educational Media Foundation thought parties should be able to file more than 10 applications if the additional ones were for areas outside the home counties of Nielsen Audio markets.

“We find a 10-application cap will best deter speculative filings, permit the expeditious processing of the applications filed in the window, and provide interested parties with a meaningful opportunity to file for and obtain new NCE FM station licenses,” the commission stated.

“We agree with NPR that the alternative REC and EMF proposals ‘fail to offer a demonstrably better balancing of the relevant objectives.’”

The commission wanted to cap the number of applications to avoid a repeat of the 2003 translator window in which it was swamped with 13,000 applications, many from speculative filers.

It expects a lot of interest in this window for several reasons: There’s no application filing fee; there are no ownership limits in the reserved band; there has not been a filing window for new NCE FM applications for over a decade; and the FCC recently simplified procedures including how it treats competing applications.