As the deadline for filing applications for new low-power FMs nears, a decision out of the FCC could be seen as another in a series of steps the agency is taking to “clear the decks” to focus on those new stations.
The commission dismissed applications for new LPFMs from Calvary Chapel of Bremerton and Bainbridge Island Broadcasting for a construction permit for a new LPFM at Bremerton and Bainbridge Island, Wash., respectively.
Both entities filed CP applications for a new LPFM on 104.5 MHz at Bremerton and Bainbridge Island in 2001. The commission issued a notice accepting the paperwork for filing from both BIB and CCB. BIB did file in 2005.
In 2009, at the end of a channel reallotment process begun in 2002, the agency granted a covering license application for the reallotment of co-channel full-service KMCQ(FM), from The Dalles, Ore. to Covington, Wash. The station was upgrading from a Class C3 to a Class C2. CCB’s and BIB’s applications are 56 and 58 kilometers (app. 35 miles), respectively, short-spaced to KMCQ(FM)’s currently authorized modified facilities. Under FCC rules, the co-channel minimum separation requirement to protect a Class C2 station such as KMCQ(FM) is 91 kilometers (almost 57 miles).
Under the Local Community Radio Act, Congress implemented several protections to avoid interference between LPFMs and full-service FMs. While some protections were relaxed to help the LPFM service grow, Congress forbids the FCC from reducing the co-channel separation LPFMs and full-service FMs.
In this instance, CCB’s and BIB’s applications are significantly short-spaced to KMCQ(FM)’s licensed facilities, and the FCC says it has no choice but to dismiss both applications. The commission is also dismissing BIB’s Petition to Deny as moot.
The FCC is encouraging CCB and BIB to “evaluate their decisions,” and reapply in the open LPFM window, according to the decision. The application window for new LPFMs closes next Thursday at 6 p.m. Eastern.