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Open Sky Radio Wins MX Appeal in Mississippi

It plans to build an FM noncom station in Clarksdale

The FCC has changed its mind about which applicant should be the tentative winner of a construction permit for a new noncommercial FM in northwest Mississippi.

It’s a case involving mutually exclusive applications filed in the 2021 NCE filing window. 

The commission originally selected Full Potential Ministry as the tentative selectee in MX Group 130, for an FM station in Coahoma, Miss. 

The Media Bureau had found that the Full Potential application as well as another filed by Open Sky Radio Corp. were both eligible for a fair distribution preference, part of the process that it uses to choose among MX applicants. And because Full Potential’s proposed second NCE service exceeded Open Sky’s by more than 5,000 people, the FCC staff at first chose the Full Potential application.

But Open Sky Radio, which hopes for a CP to serve nearby Clarksdale, then filed a petition to deny. 

It argued that the bureau had improperly relied on a revised document that Full Potential provided after the close of the window. It said that the document originally attached to the Full Potential application did not include population numbers. It also noted that, after the close of the window, the Media Bureau staff uploaded to the Full Potential application a revised document containing population figures.

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Open Sky pointed out that in an earlier NCE filing window, the bureau consistently rejected fair distribution claims if their population numbers were missing. It also said that the instructions for the 2021 window stated that supporting documents had to be filed prior to the close of the window. So it said the FCC should reject Full Potential’s fair distribution claim. (Full Potential did not file an opposition to the Open Sky petition.)

In this week’s ruling, the FCC has agreed with Open Sky. It said that after the close of the filing window, its staff had received an email from Full Potential’s engineer stating that he had experienced problems with the FCC’s LMS filing system, and asked to replace the original fair distribution exhibit with a revised one. It said its staff misconstrued this email as suggesting that LMS had not accepted the original fair distribution exhibit.  

“However, LMS had in fact accepted this exhibit, which was missing several population figures, and it is clear that FPM simply uploaded the incorrect attachment.”

The FCC says it has consistently rejected such post-window amendments that claim, for the first time, a fair distribution preference or which attempt to correct population figures.

So, it now has conducted a new analysis and found that Open Sky Radio Corp. is the tentative selectee for NCE MX Group 130.

As in all such cases, petitions to deny this decision must be filed within 30 days, after which the commission intends to grant a CP.