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Guel Application Axed by FCC

Commission investigates authenticity, validity of info in several other LPFM applications

The Guel name is back in the headlines after several applications for low-power FM construction applications were dismissed by the Federal Communications Commission.

During the 2013 LPFM filing window, consultant Antonio Cesar Guel was involved with the filing of 246 applications, and in the years since, several industry organizations have raised concerns about several being speculative filings that are not truly local in nature.

In Kansas City, the FCC recently dismissed a Guel-led application for a new low-power FM station to be led by South Kansas City Community Radio. Prepared in 2013, the applicant said it was planning to broadcast a mix of religious and educational programming to the community.

The LPFM advocacy group REC Networks filed an opposition letter with the FCC soon after the application was filed, saying that this application was one of several others that may have been filed by a larger organization with no true local presence in the community. REC pointed out inconsistencies in earlier Guel-related filings, such as main studio address that may lead to a post box at a UPS store.

This Guel-related LPFM applicant is missing in action.

A second objection was filed by Common Frequency, a nonprofit focused on community and college radio, which submitted a petition to deny for this application as well as 62 other LPFM construction permit applications that are associated with Guel.

In the South Kansas City application, REC Networks noted that the LPFM application was amended to change the address of the organization’s headquarters and the habitable residence of four board members to a location that seemed, according to REC’s mapping search, in the midst of a storage yard.

“When we connect the events together, it raises the question of whether Antonio Cesar Guel may have applied for this facility ‘blindly’ with the intention of selling the facility to another party,” said Michelle Bradley, REC Networks founder, in a supplemental objection in 2016.

Through its attorney, South Kansas City Community Radio responded to the comments by saying the vast majority of the arguments from REC and Common Frequency are “unsupported speculation.” Citing a ruling in a different Guel-related application, the FCC rejected the REC argument that these applications should be dismissed just because of their similarities to each other or to other applications filed by Guel. The FCC also said it found no reason to act on the oft-reiterated argument that the applications failed to comply with a state’s foreign corporation rule.

But on June 1 of this year, the FCC did reach out to the applicant’s attorney, Dan J. Alpert of Arlington, Va., to request additional information on potential rule violations in the South Kansas City application, noting potential issues of misrepresentation and lack of candor in the application — specifically the authenticity of South Kansas City Community Radio, the validity of information in the application and compliance with rules regarding LPFM applicants.

The same letter was sent to a member of the South Kansas City Community Radio board, and that letter — with photographic evidence posted in the FCC database — noted that no such address existed.

After receiving no response, on July 10, the commission moved to dismiss the application outright.

Two other Guel-related applications faced a similar fate — South Miami Hispanic Community Radio and North Miami Hispanic Community Radio. In these applications, questions were raised about site assurances and amended addresses. REC Networks said in an objection with the FCC that the North Miami and South Miami application filings may be speculative in nature, pointing specifically to an unauthorized change of control during the application process.

In March of this year, the FCC launched an investigation into potential rule violations — again citing alleged misrepresentation and lack of candor — after South Miami violated the major change rule, in which an applicant for an LPFM construction permit can only make ownership changes if at least 50% of the original applicants remain on the governing board. Upon research, the FCC found that none of the three original members on the South Miami board had any involvement with the project.

On July 13, the FCC moved to dismiss the South Miami application. Along the way, the applicants of North Miami requested that that LPFM application be voluntarily dismissed.