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No LPFM for Fort Lauderdale Church

The commission said its application lacked the necessary engineering exhibit

The FCC Media Bureau recently rejected an appeal from a church that hoped to build a low-power FM station in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

All Nations New Testament Church of God Fellowship had applied during last December’s LPFM window. It included a second-adjacent waiver request, noting the presence of WKIS on 99.9 MHz in Boca Raton and WHYI on 100.7 in Fort Lauderdale; but it did not provide technical exhibits, telling the FCC only that “a special antenna array” on a tall tower would be used and that “no population will be subject to interference.”

In April the Media Bureau dismissed the application for failure to meet minimum distance spacing requirements. It said All Nations had failed to file a required engineering exhibit demonstrating that it would not cause interference to any authorized radio service.

The church then filed a petition for reconsideration. 

It noted that its application was a singleton and it argued that the information it had submitted met FCC requirements.

It said that the commission should have notified it that its application required additional information and said that the FCC has reinstated applications in similar cases.

But the Media Bureau rejected those arguments in its ruling in late May. 

“LPFM applicants must protect authorized FM stations, pending applications for new and existing FM stations filed prior to the release of the Procedures Public Notice, authorized LPFM stations and vacant FM allotments, by meeting the minimum distance separation requirements … of the commission’s rules.”

Any application submitted during an LPFM filing window that fails to meet the spacing requirements is to be dismissed without opportunity to amend it, the bureau wrote.

Also, although the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 authorizes the commission to waive second-adjacent channel spacing requirements, an LPFM applicant must specifically request the waiver and demonstrate that its proposed facilities “will not result in interference to any authorized radio service.” The Media Bureau emphasized the phrase “and demonstrate.”

It also said it had explicitly cautioned LPFM applicants that it would dismiss any application that fails to comply with second-adjacent channel spacing requirements without requesting a waiver, supported by the requisite engineering exhibit, and that a dismissed applicant could not seek reinstatement.

As to whether the church should have been allowed to add an engineering exhibit later, the bureau said this would be appropriate only if special circumstances warrant and if the deviation better serves the public interest. The commission said that’s not the case here and that the applicant had offered no “justification, circumstance or precedent warranting grant of the request.” 

Being a singleton, it said, is not a special circumstance that justifies a waiver.

Last, should the FCC staff have flagged the omission to the applicant? The bureau said no.

“Applicants are required to comply with the commission’s rules and procedures, which were clearly outlined by the Procedures Public Notice. Although the bureau’s practice is to contact applicants whose applications contain correctable errors, in this case, the failure to include a technical showing in support of the Second Adjacent Waiver Request was an incurable defect.”

[Related: “No Mercy From FCC for Athens State University’s LPFM Rejection“]

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