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FCC OKs Two Tribal Allotments

Paves way for stations in Arizona and New Mexico

The FCC Media Bureau has approved requests from two tribal organizations for local Class A FM allotments, one in Arizona and one in New Mexico. An allotment serves as a placeholder for a future FM station.

This is the type of move envisioned in the FCC’s rural radio proceeding, formally called “Policies to Promote Rural Radio Service and to Streamline Allotment and Assignment Procedures,” finalized in 2011. In that, the FCC said the public interest would be served by establishing a priority in favor of tribes and tribal entities proposing allotments of FM channels to serve tribal lands.

The Hualapai tribe asked the commission to allot FM Channel 265A (100.9 MHz) to Peach Springs, Ariz., as a first local tribal allotment and a second local service. The tribe showed that at least 50% of the principal community contour would cover its tribal lands. Peach Springs is on tribal land.

Separately but similarly, Navajo Technical College, part of the Navajo Nation, asked the FCC to allot Channel 297A in Crownpoint, N.M. (107.3 MHz). The facility would be the first local tribally-owned commercial transmission service, and the first local service overall.

The FCC received no comments in opposition in either case.

An allotment consists of a community of license, a frequency or “channel,” a station class and the latitude and longitude of a theoretical transmitter site, according to the FCC website. Station hopefuls can initiate the process by filing a petition for rulemaking to add an allotment plus a Form 301 application for construction permit.

In these cases, the commission will release a public notice announcing a threshold qualifications window, during which other qualifying applicant may file application for a CP.