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FCC Tries to Sort FM Allotment Backup

FCC Tries to Sort FM Allotment Backup

The FCC is trying to clear a backlog of more than 500 vacant FM allotments. The glut was created when a federal appeals court in July ruled the FCC couldn’t force noncoms to bid at auction for spectrum, even when the spectrum in question is on the commercial portion of the FM band.
Commercial stations now bid for all new spectrum; noncoms don’t as they are mostly on the reserved portion of the band. But not always; sometimes they get to place a station on a commercial frequency if space is not available on the reserved portion of the band.
Last April, the FCC decided noncoms had to bid for commercial frequencies. That’s what the appeals court struck down and the competing applications have been piling up ever since.
Many of the allotments that are backlogged have commercial and noncommercial applicants vying for the same frequencies.
The FCC asked for comment on new procedures to license commercial spectrum when both commercial and noncoms want the same frequencies. The FCC could adopt one of these options, or several of them or add additional options.
The three suggested options are:
1) Make noncoms ineligible for licenses for commercial channels. Limit noncoms to FM and TV channels specifically set aside for them either in the reserved band or through the allocations process.
2) Allow noncoms to acquire licenses for commercial channels when no commercial entities apply for them; and
3) Give noncoms opportunities to reserve additional FM and TV channels.