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LPFM Application Faces Localism, Site Scrutiny

FCC dismisses application for a proposed low-power station in upstate New York

One proposed LPFM station in Huntington Station, N.Y., will not be built after a series of objections over the question of localism and the supposed availability of a tower site.

Libertad en Cristo filed an application during the 2013 LPFM filing window, and its application — along with five other applicants — was accepted and dubbed as LPFM MX Group 261.

An objection soon followed from REC Networks contesting a large group of LPFM applications, of which Libertad was one. “[Attempts to infiltrate the LPFM service] under the guise of questionable local presence would undermine the commission’s goal of localism and violate the spirit of the recently passed Local Community Radio Act,” the company said in its objection filed in December 2013.

In September 2014, the Federal Communications Commission conducted a point system analysis and afterward determined that the Libertad application was not a tentative-selectee of MX Group 261; in November of last year, the Media Bureau dismissed the application.

Libertad quickly identified a new transmitter site that resolved its mutual exclusivities, sought reinstatement of the application, and the deal was back on: on Dec. 9, 2014, the Media Bureau reinstated the application and accepted it for filing.

But another group cried foul: In July 2015, JCM Radio Inc. said that the application should not have been accepted for filing because Libertad’s headquarters is not within the required 10-mile radius of the proposed transmitter antenna. JCM Radio also questioned the validity of Libertad’s new transmitter site, arguing that Libertad lacked “reasonable assurance of site availability” at the newly identified transmitter site in Caumsett State Historic Park.

JCM Radio argued that this site is under the jurisdiction of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which, according to JCM, did not give Libertad permission to use the site. JCM referenced an email thread from representatives from the Office of Parks who said they were not aware of Libertad’s request.

Libertad did not contest the filing made by JCM, the FCC said. As a result, the commission dismissed the application.

“A mere possibility that the site will be available is not sufficient,” the FCC said in its filing. “While some latitude is afforded that reasonable assurance [of a transmitter site will be available], there must be, at a minimum, a meeting of the minds resulting in some firm understanding as to the site’s availability.”