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Dream of FM Translators in the Pacific Denied by FCC

Commission says it must follow its own strict rules when applicants miss filing deadline

WASHINGTON — A group seeking to set up FM translator stations on two islands in the western Pacific has seen their Application for Review denied.

The Federal Communications Commission affirmed a decision made earlier this year by the Media Bureau to dismiss construction permit applications filed by Guam Power II, Holonet Corp. and Management Advisory Service. The three had applied for construction permits during the January 2018 translator filing window as part of a proposal to build new cross-service FM translator stations to rebroadcast AM stations in Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands.

In March, the bureau directed singletons of the January action (which included these applicants) to file a long-form application during a three-week window in the spring. According to the Media Bureau, the applicants failed to file that application. As a result, the bureau dismissed the applications.

In defense, the applicants filed a Petition for Reconsideration and said that the failure to file was attributable to a misunderstanding by the applicants’ engineer. The applicants also said that the AM stations are facing financial difficulties and that reinstatement of the applicants would be consistent with the commission’s policy of providing FM translators to broadcasters that do not have one in the same market.

But the Media Bureau said that the applicants were ultimately responsible for the error of their engineer. Public interest is best served by fair and consistent application of the FCC’s rules and procedures, the bureau said.

The applicants tried again in a formal Application for Review. According to the applicants, the Media Bureau did not give their waiver request a close enough look and instead made a perfunctory decision that lacked explanation. They also criticized criticizes the bureau’s “unproven assertion [that] the public interest is better served by requiring strict adherence” to commission rules.

The FCC disagreed.

The applicants failed to show that bending the rules for these three would better serve the public interest. “The commission has consistently refused to accept applications after the close of a filing window where the failure to timely file was attributed to error or poor planning by applicants’ agents,” the FCC said. “Strict deadlines are necessary to the orderly processing of this and any other application window.”

Thus the commission denied the applicants’ request for review.