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LPFM Hopeful Says a Typo Should Not Prevent a CP

Says the FCC is penalizing it “for failing to achieve inhumanly digital perfection”

An Alabama LPFM applicant whose filing was dismissed due to a single-digit data entry error is still hoping to convince the FCC to change its mind.

The Selma Weather and Information Forum says the FCC is “severely penalizing an LPFM applicant for failing to achieve inhumanly digital perfection, perfection not demanded by the commission of its own data and systems.”

As we’ve reported, Selma originally applied in the 2023 window, hoping to win a construction permit to broadcast weather forecasts and severe weather alerts to the community on 107.1 FM.

That application was dismissed because the coordinates in its application included a longitude value of 67 degrees instead of the intended 87, thus appearing to propose an antenna site 560 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean.

Consulting engineer Paul Bame of Prometheus Radio Project then filed a petition for reconsideration. But the Media Bureau rejected Selma’s arguments.

Now, in a 33-page followup, Selma argues that the commission is misapplying a precedent, willfully disregarding an applicant’s intended location, and breaking its own commitment to keeping its LPFM processes simple.

It pointed out that in 2020 the FCC amended its LPFM technical rules “to be simple so that non-profit organizations with limited engineering expertise and small budgets could readily apply.” Yet Selma contends that the LPFM application process is the most unforgiving of all of the commission’s broadcast processes.

“Even the most tech-oriented person from nonprofits and schools appears to have around a 60% failure in getting a grant for a singleton,” it wrote.

The group also alleged that not long before the LPFM filing window, the search utility on the FCC’s own website was providing out-of-date channel spacing information.

“If the FCC cannot deliver error-free work concerning LPFM channels, it is inappropriate for the FCC to command a member of the public (that is entirely new to radio) that they execute a 100% error-free engineering proposal on an LPFM form,” Selma wrote.

The organization noted that there have been several similar dismissals. It said the FCC’s denial letters contained similar wording, with its Media Bureau saying it would be unfair if applicants could resolve minimum distance separation requirements after the fact and that doing so would “frustrate the processing efficiencies.”

It said the commission relied on a precedent from a 2014 case involving the Diocese of Portland, Maine. Prior to that case, there were several instances in which LPFMs were allowed to correct typos in location data on their applications.

Selma argues that the Portland case had to do with managing noncom FM mutually exclusive groups. And it contends that applications that are based on sound engineering but contain a typo should be treated differently than applications containing flawed or missing engineering.

“The argument that an applicant would be looking to change the spacing rules is farcical,” it wrote.

Selma further points out that there were around 1,300 applications in the LPFM filing window, less than half of the yield in the window of 2013 when the FCC was still processing applications via regular mail, while the process is all electronic now.

“With half as many applications, and leaps in processing efficiency, it is perplexing that that efficiency allowed reinstatement of LPFM typos in 2013,” Selma writes.

Hoping not to have to wait another decade for an LPFM filing window, Selma concluded by asking the FCC to reconsider its application with the typo corrected.

(Read Selma Weather and Information Forum’s Application for Review)