With six applicants vying for one construction permit for a new noncommercial educational (NCE) station, confusion can set in — particularly when there is a tentative selection, an objection, a petition, a denial, a grant, a repeal and finally a new tentative winner along the way.
After the Federal Communications Commission initially selected six mutually exclusive applications as potential candidates during its November 2021 window for a new NCE FM station construction permit, the Media Bureau conducted a fair distribution analysis and initially determined that two of those applications were eligible for a fair distribution preference — one by World Federation of Pastors and Ministers of the Full Gospel Inc. and one by New Beginnings Movement Inc.
Since the application by New Beginnings proposed a second NCE service that exceeded the application by the World Federation’s by more than 5,000 people, the Media Bureau initially chose New Beginnings as the tentative selectee of the group, known as NCE MX Group 95. With New Beginnings serving Seymour, Ind., and World Federation serving Country Squire Lake, Ind., the Group 95 included four other applications, all proposing to serve communities in Indiana: Olivet Nazarene University serving Bloomington; Lushomo Health Education Centre and Appalachian Educational Communication Corp. serving Ellettsville; and Community Radio for Hoosiers Inc. serving Seymour.
However, a petition filed by Lushomo argued that both the population figures and the number of second NCE service numbers listed within New Beginnings’ application were incorrect. Lushomo argued that the real figures are actually below the required thresholds (which require a station to provide an aggregated first and second service to at least 2,000 people and 10% of the population within the proposed 60 dBu contour). As a result, Lushomo argued that New Beginnings cannot claim a fair distribution preference and the Media Bureau should rescind its tentative selection of its application.
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In addition, an informal objection was filed against the World Federation application by an individual named Albert Alan David, who argued that the application contained incorrect population figures for first and second noncommercial service populations. Based on 2010 census data, far fewer persons would receive first and second noncommercial service than the application claimed, David said. And even though World Federation responded to say that David’s objection is moot because it amended its application to provide accurate population numbers, David argued that the initial erroneous figures “appear to qualify as a willful false statement.”
Staff from the Media Bureau reviewed the population figures in both the New Beginnings application and the Lushomo petition and determined that the data provided by New Beginnings was indeed erroneous. As a result, the bureau granted the Lushomo petition, rescinded the New Beginnings application and went about conducting a new fair distribution analysis using population data that FCC staff has independently determined to be accurate.
Based on second NCE service population totals, the bureau said that both World Federation and New Beginnings each looked to be eligible for a fair distribution of service preference. The other applicants are not, the bureau said. As a result, Olivet Nazarene University, Lushomo, Appalachian and Community Radio were each eliminated.
Using revised population data from the independent staff engineering analysis, the bureau found that New Beginnings would serve a total population of 28,622 people within its 60 dBu contour and would provide first NCE service to 71 people, second NCE service to 928 people and aggregate first/second NCE service to 999 people. Thus, the bureau said, New Beginnings failed to meet the proper eligibility threshold because it would not provide aggregated first and second NCE service to at least 2,000 people as required by the commission’s rules. Thus, the bureau eliminated the New Beginnings application.
The bureau found that World Federation would provide a first or second NCE service to 6,293 people in total. As a result, the bureau named World Federation the new tentative selectee for NCE MX Group 95.
The bureau also rejected David’s suggestion that World Federation should be sanctioned for providing incorrect population figures. David does not cite an instance where the bureau has sanctioned an NCE applicant for providing incorrect population data. In addition, there is no prohibition against a party amending its application to reduce its competitive standing. As a result, the bureau denied David’s objection.