Doyle Says School System May Sell Its LPFM Permit

When can an LPFM be transferred?
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When can an LPFM be transferred?

When can an LPFM be transferred?

Not usually. But a public school system in Virginia has won the OK from Peter Doyle, chief of the Audio Division of the FCC’s Media Bureau, to assign its permit for an LPFM station to a church organization.

At least one legal observer thinks this may signal a loosening of LPFM restrictions.

Shenandoah County Public Schools held the permit for WSCE(LP) in Woodstock, which has not yet been built. The station will be assigned to Christian Leadership Ministries, part of Portering the Glory International Inc.

The school board had decided it would be unfair to fund a radio facility for only one of its schools, so it worked out a deal with another local nonprofit. CLM agreed to pay the schools $1,000, which the school system noted was less than it had paid its consultant for its original permit application; thus it would not be profiting.

LPFM rules forbid most assignments and transfers of LPFM authorizations. Doyle pointed out in his decision that when the commission created the LPFM service, it originally forbid all assignments and transfers, but later adjusted the policy and gave the Media Bureau the ability to waive it case-by-case if that would “maximize spectrum use for low-power operations.”

In this instance it decided the schools would not profit and the ministry qualifies otherwise.

One observer, David Silverman of Davis Wright Tremaine, commented in his blog that “this action comes on the heels of a congressional push to authorize more LPFM stations and may signal a loosening of restrictions pertaining to LPFM stations generally.”

“The commission mentioned in a footnote that ‘no LPFM filing window is currently scheduled to take place,’” Silverman continued. “ One can only wonder whether allowing assignments of unbuilt LPFM permits may be a backdoor means of placating those who are clamoring for more LPFM stations until such time as the FCC opens another window.”