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FM Translator Applicants Urge FCC Action

Those with requests pending since 2003 say passage of LPFM bill resolves FM translator vs. LPFM priority issue

Now that the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 has been signed into law, radio owners who have FM translator applications pending at the commission say it’s time the FCC proceeded to process their requests.

Ten owners with a total of 21 FM translator applications pending for seven years have filed comments to the FCC (MM Docket 99-25) saying the FCC’s processing of those applications can continue, provided spectrum is available in a community for an LPFM.

In addition to eliminating third-adjacent channel protections in order to fit in more LPFMs in a market, the legislation recently signed by the president spells out that full-service FMs are primary services and that translators, boosters and LPFMs are secondary when it comes to spectrum priority.

Womble Carlyle attorney John Garziglia says FM translator applicants want to provide fill-in service or rebroadcast HD2 or “signal-deficient” AM signals. Among the broadcasters represented in the filing are the Cromwell Group, East Kentucky Radio Network and East Arkansas Broadcasters.

Many filings in the docket had expressed concerns that a grant of an FM translator application in a community, “even if there is a cap of 10 applications,” would block an LPFM, the broadcasters said. That concern “is now addressed in the new Local Community Radio Act of 2010,” they write.

Their filing includes examples of how an LPFM might be granted in three market sizes: a top 300 Arbitron-rated market, a top 50 Arbitron-rated market and an unrated market.

“The broadcasters in this filing participated in an effort that will benefit the radio broadcasting industry as a whole if successful,” according to Garziglia. “Multiple new LPFM stations are now assured with the passage of the Local Community Radio Act of 2010. What is not assured is the fate of pending FM translator applications.”