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No New LPFM for Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

The FCC has denied the school’s appeal

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee won’t be getting a new low-power FM station in Milwaukee. The school has failed to convince the FCC’s Media Bureau to overturn an earlier decision.

Last year UWM had submitted an application in the LPFM filing window. But in January the FCC dismissed it for failure to meet minimum distance spacing with respect to co-channel station WMBI-FM in Chicago and second-adjacent WMTH(FM) in Park Ridge, Ill.

It seems the school had cited the wrong coordinates in the Tech Box on its application, so it petitioned to reinstate the application and asked for a rule waiver to fix the coordinates.

It said that while its application used inaccurate data, its second-adjacent waiver request had the coordinates correct. It also cited several earlier cases in which the FCC had allowed applicants to correct coordinates.

The Media Bureau now has denied the effort. It found no legal error in its decision or any precedent warranting reinstatement.

Under the rules, it explained, any application in an LPFM filing window that fails to meet spacing requirements will be dismissed without an opportunity to amend it. Further, the FCC’s public notice about filing procedures also carried a warning with the phrase “no opportunity to correct the deficiency.”

It said its staff relies only on technical parameters give in the application and does not review attachments or other information trying to resolve discrepancies caused by an applicant’s error. 

Also, permitting applicants to file amendments in this situation “would be unfair to the many applicants who fully complied with the rules and filing requirements.” 

Regarding four past reinstated applications cited by UWM, the FCC said these were not relevant. 

“The bureau reinstated those applications pursuant to its former practice to allow applicants to correct defective site coordinates where an Antenna Site Registration (ASR) number or technical exhibit contained the intended location of the transmission antenna, or in cases that did not involve the section 73.807 minimum distance spacing requirements.”

It said UWM can’t rely on these exceptions in this case for several reasons. For one thing, in a later case the FCC clarified that in future it would rely solely on the data in the application’s Tech Box to determine technical acceptability and it would prohibit applicants from fixing a location deficiency in an application with a prohibited amendment.

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