Christian Broadcasting (CBI) has won a round in its efforts to obtain licenses to build three new AM stations in Anchorage.
The latest action in the case is a paperwork-related ruling; it doesn’t mean the company will get the stations, but it removes an earlier decision that had appeared to doom the effort.
The Federal Communications Commission dismissed the applications in 2007; CBI then asked the FCC to reconsider, citing confusion over an electronic form involved; and the commission now has done so.
Back in 2004 the company filed an electronic application to participate in an auction and checked a box indicating that it had noncom educational applicant status. (An entity may apply for an NCE station during an AM auction filing window but the application can be dismissed if a mutually exclusive application is filed by someone else for a commercial station — unless the applicants settle or provide an engineering fix that removes mutual exclusivity.)
“Although there were applications for commercial stations that were mutually exclusive with CBI’s applications, CBI did not conclude a settlement agreement or implement an engineering solution that would have removed the mutual exclusivity with the other applicants,” the FCC wrote in its summary. So because it had checked the NCE box and appeared to be applying for an NCE station, the applications were dismissed.
CBI, however, told the FCC it had checked the NCE box in error. It noted that the FCC has acted earlier to allow FM auction participants to “deselect” NCE status; it cited a case in which the Media Bureau and the Wireless Bureau noted confusing ambiguities in electronic Form 175 and the accompanying instructions. In that instance, the FCC allowed major amendments to short-form applications for the purpose of allowing auction applicants whose applications were rejected for indicating NCE status an opportunity to “de-select” NCE status.
The FCC accepted CBI’s argument: “While the Bureaus have since clarified the instructions to help applicants better understand the consequences of selecting NCE status on the short-form application, we recognize that the old instructions may have contributed to confusion on the part of CBI.”
So it granted CBI’s petition, giving it an opportunity to amend its applications to indicate the intended applicant status.