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FCC Outright Dismisses All 998 Informal Objections by LPFM Advocacy Groups

Objections are overly broad and not supported by the facts, the FCC said

The mass of nearly 1,000 informal objections filed by three LPFM advocacy groups has been outright dismissed by the Federal Communications Commission.

In mid-May, the Center for International Media Action, Common Frequency and Prometheus Radio Project filed objections to 998 applications because the FCC had not been properly ensuring that the LPFM and translator applicants were receiving equal opportunity as necessitated by the Local Community Radio Act.

A few weeks later, the group moved to withdraw 20 of those objections, saying that on reflection, certain translator applications should not have been part of the original objection.

But the FCC responded in a letter to the groups on June 8 to outright dismiss all of those objections.

The FCC said that the objections are overbroad in their scope, do not provide a cursory explanation as to the specific facts underlying the objection and misunderstand the spirt of the LCRA.

[Read: LPFM Advocates File Objections to Nearly 1,000 Applications]

First off, the FCC’s letter questioned the wide reach of the objections, which looped in every pending application involving an FM translator, even modification applications that do not constitute applications for new FM translator stations.

In addition, the FCC said, an informal objection like this one must properly allege specific, supported facts. The only facts that the objectors provide in support of their objections — other than a simple assertion that all applications failed to comply with the LCRA, the FCC said — is a statement listing 10 facilities that could preclude the possibility of an LPFM station even being at that same location. “This cursory explanation is not sufficient to establish a substantial and material question of fact,” the commission said. “Therefore, the objections to those 10 applications must be dismissed.”

The FCC also said that it rejected the conclusion that all remaining available spectrum in all markets must be equally apportioned among FM translators, FM booster and LPFM stations.

The FCC said the objectors also ignore the “extraordinary ad hoc processing measures the commission established in the LPFM Fourth R&O to facilitate the successful grant of over 2,000 LPFM new station construction permits from the 2013 window.” They also ignore the fundamental differences between the two services, which make equal spectrum allocations neither a desirable nor an achievable goal, the FCC said.

And remember, the FCC added: It is the commission’s responsibility to ensure that the mandates of Section 5 of the LCRA are met, not the individual applicants’ responsibility. It is not the responsibility of each individual applicant to provide evidence that its application leaves sufficient spectrum for any future LPFM stations.

For all these reasons, the advocacy group’s objections were dismissed and denied.

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