As was hinted at just before it happened three low-power FM advocate groups have moved to withdraw a few of the 998 informal objections filed by full-power applicants seeking to extend their coverage with repeater stations.
The three groups — the Center for International Media Action, Common Frequency and Prometheus Radio Project — withdrew 20 of their informal objections originally filed on May 15.
The groups say that more withdrawals are to come.
In their original filing, representatives from the three organizations said that FCC had not been properly ensuring that the LPFM and translator applicants were receiving equal opportunity as necessitated by the Local Community Radio Act (LCRA). In its original filing, the groups argued that for the last four years, the FCC had failed to carefully modify translator processing procedures so that applicants could show that they were honoring the LCRA, which expanded the LPFM service.
“Since 2014, something switched and they have allowed a giant spectrum grab by repeaters without regard to future LPFM opportunities,” said Prometheus Engineering Director Paul Bame at the time.
The three advocacy groups found that on reflection, certain translator applications should not have been part of the original objection.
According to the groups, these 20 objections concern translators either licensed prior to the LCRA or those that were licensed to cover a permit that honored the initial LCRA processing rules.
“In either case, [these] subsequently have not made long Mattoon waiver or AM relocations,” the group said by way of explanation. “In the interest of the time and energy of the commission, applicants and the group itself, [the groups] have withdrawn twenty of these objections this week and more will be withdrawn next week.”
A string of criticisms came from industry observes after the initial objections were filed. Said one engineer at the time: “I have a hard time believing that the FCC overlooked the LCRA in all four AM revitalization FM translator windows. It is very likely that what occurred took place after careful consideration of the requirements of the LCRA, and that will all come out at some point.”
The advocacy groups are actively welcoming dialog from translator applicants with similar histories to those recently withdrawn applications. Interested parties should reach out to [email protected] or [email protected].
The move by the three groups is just one of several developments in a long tug of war over U.S. FM spectrum management — one that that often finds LPFM advocates and translator licensees pitted against one another.