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FCC Says Everyone Faces Weather, Terrain Issues for Tower Construction

Circumstances cited by former permittee not so unusual agency says

The FCC doesn’t believe things like snow, terrain and tower crew hassles are all that unusual when it comes to building an AM tower array and the towers should really be built if a potential owner certifies they have been constructed.

The full commission has upheld a bureau decision and won’t change its dismissal of Timothy Cutforth’s application for a license to cover the unbuilt KJJL(AM) in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming.

Cutforth was the former permittee and in 2008 told the commission he needed more time to finish the facility because of unforeseeable circumstances.

The center of the argument is over whether he built-out the towers for the directional array. Cutforth certified they were built, but the bureau noted none of the five towers were complete and two special operating conditions on the permit hadn’t been met. It also said his application didn’t contain current distribution and field strength data, considered critical to evaluate a DA system.

In his appeals, Cutforth said he was a first-time permittee and faced obstacles like snow, tower crew difficulties, illness, terrain and restricted access around the site as unusual circumstances preventing the on-time construction. The bureau didn’t find those conditions unusual. He also argued that the three-year construction and filing deadlines were “harsh,” and really meant to eliminate permittees in large markets who “tie up the spectrum indefinitely.”

In his latest appeal, he submitted new exhibits of weather conditions and construction progress that he didn’t supply to the Media Bureau, so the full commission dismissed those and also said in its decision he hadn’t raised new arguments.

The commission said the Media Bureau’s decision was correct and the agency denied Cutforth’s appeal.