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In San Francisco, a Time Share for LPFMs

Outcome resolves MX Group 37

Text has been updated to clarify the status of the Outsound application.

The San Francisco area seems a natural fit for the expansion of low-power radio service; and now the Federal Communications Commission has reached a decision in a long-contested group of applicants seeking to operate on 102.5 on the FM dial there. The outcome: a time-share arrangement for several of the hopefuls.

During the 2013 low-power FM filing window that expanded the U.S. LPFM service — and resulted in a number of desirable opportunities in populous cities — several mutually exclusive applicants were tagged by the commission as MX Group 37.

Its point system analysis then determined that four of them — SF Indiefest, the San Francisco Public Press, Outsound and San Francisco Community Radio — were entitled to an equal number of comparative points; they were named as tentative selectees on a time-share basis.

The members were given 90 days to file time-share agreements or resolve their mutual exclusivities.

From there, complaints flew back and forth — in the form of informal objections, petitions to deny and time share agreements — from the various applicants. Among the allegations were that an applicant’s studio was not publicly accessible as specified on their application, that an applicant previously worked as a radio host on an allegedly unlicensed radio station, that a specified transmitter location had not been clarified on an application, and that there were concerns over interference, among other issues.

Weeding through the complaints and petitions to deny, the commission said the application of Outsound was non-tentative (over inaccessibility of its studio) and it dismissed SF Indiefest (over refusing to answer questions about its host’s alleged work at an unlicensed radio station). Outsound was not dismissed outright.

This leaves San Francisco Public Press and San Francisco Community Radio as the tentative selectees for low-power FM station licenses; Outsound could still join with them in a universal settlement.

But because the parties have not filed an acceptable time-share agreement with the commission, the Media Bureau will offer them the opportunity to reach a new voluntary time-share agreement, or identify their preferred timeslots pursuant to the commission’s involuntary time-sharing procedures.