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AM Translator CPs Get Some Deadline Relief

FCC announces availability of waivers for certain AM stations with pending FM translators

COVID concept image Getty Images/Pantan Kamsan
Getty Images/Pantan Kamsan

The Federal Communications Commission is offering deadline relief to certain AM radio stations in the United States that hold construction permits for FM translators.

The Media Bureau said it will accept COVID-19-related requests to postpone the expiration date for CPs from Auctions 99 and 100 that are due to expire by the end of June 2021.

The bureau “is aware that shutdowns associated with the pandemic have forced stations to halt construction, have disrupted equipment availability and deliveries, and have interrupted travel for tower and equipment installers,” it announced.

“In addition, the pandemic has compounded the severe financial difficulties experienced by many AM stations, including the significant loss of advertising revenue due to economic disruptions and the need to cover breaking news and air public service announcements relating to the pandemic.

“These financial difficulties, in some cases, may have caused AM stations to delay construction of authorized cross-service translators.”

The two filing windows date to 2017 and were part of the FCC’s AM “revitalization” initiative. The windows produced more than 1,700 construction permits for these new “cross-service” FM translators. At least 800 of those are already on the air.

Stations should submit a waiver request at least 15 days before the expiration date. Extensions can be no more than six months.

Waiver requests should be in the form of a letter submitted by e-mail to Robert Gates ([email protected]) or Larry Hannif-Ali ([email protected]) of the Media Bureau, Audio Division. There is no fee. (Don’t use the Licensing and Management System for this request.)

Requests must specify how the pandemic or its economic impact has prevented timely construction. Evidence of justification might include financial statements demonstrating the pandemic’s economic impact on the permittee; affidavits or other evidence of the unavailability of components or tower crews; or copies of equipment orders.

The rules don’t provide for CP extensions; but the bureau wrote, “We will in appropriate cases grant a waiver of the construction deadline based on ‘rare and exceptional circumstances beyond the permittee’s control.’”

It added that this is specifically for CPs awarded to applicants in those two auction windows expiring on by June 30. “While other applicants and permittees are free as always to seek waiver relief, our public interest finding does not specifically pertain to other construction permits, applications or services.”

More information is here.