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FCC Extends Freeze to Protect Four Stations

The Media Bureau instated a freeze on accepting any applications that could interfere with the vacated AM stations

The Federal Communications Commission is continuing its freeze on changes in the St. Louis market in an effort to protect four former stations.

On March 17, 2020, the Media Bureau extended the temporary freeze it put in place a year ago on accepting any minor change applications that conflict with the most recently licensed facilities of certain former AM radio stations in that market.

It was back in February 2020 that a judge dismissed renewal applications in the case of four AM radio stations: KFTK(AM) in East St. Louis in Illinois, WQQW(AM) in Highland, Ill., KZQZ(AM) in St. Louis and KQQZ(AM) in DeSoto, Mo.

[Read: FCC Hands Down Decision on Four St. Louis AM Stations]

At that time, the judge decided that ownership of the station was not clear — it was alleged that some stations were actually controlled by a convicted felon. After back and forth, the bureau said the original licensee, Entertainment Media Trust, did not effectively prove ownership. As a result, the bureau dismissed the four applications and imposed a related filing freeze on the acceptance of any AM minor change applications that would potentially conflict with any of these four stations’ expired licenses.

With an auction filing window on the horizon, the bureau set up the freeze to avoid the possibility of mutual exclusivity with any submitted applications. The bureau said that the freeze would remain in effect until the close of the window or when the bureau announced it was lifting the freeze.

“This freeze was intended to avoid the possibility of mutual exclusivity with applications submitted during a forthcoming auction filing window, and thus promote a more certain auction process,” the Media Bureau said.

Then in February 2021, a new auction of AM and FM broadcast construction permits was announced — including construction permits for the previously licensed four AM stations. The new public notice is to announce that the ongoing filing freeze is now extended. The extension will terminate the day after the filing deadline for the post Auction 109 long-form applications.