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New LPFM, FM Translator Dust-Up

FHH says LPFMs may not need to protect amended FM translator applications

Will LPFM applications for new stations need to protect amended FM translator applications?

Writing for CommLawBlog, Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth attorney Harry Cole says maybe not, according to informal word from the commission.

Radio World heard the same thing last week from an engineering consultant.

The Audio Division apparently believes technical amendments to pending FM translator applications filed on or after June 17 would not receive protection from LPFM applications, according to Cole, who’s also a Radio World contributor.

The commission invited technical amendments from MX groups to resolve the mutual exclusivity in May; the deadline is July 22.

The protection issue arose after the agency released its notice announcing the Oct. 15–29 application window for LPFMs. There, the commission said LPFM applications would have to protect pending applications for full-power, FM translator and FM booster authorizations filed before the June 17 notice date.

Cole translates the intent as protection to be applied to “facilities specified as of June 16 in any pending applications.” He also raises the plight of those holding singleton pending translator applications who are thinking of filing technical amendments if they learn, for example, that the transmitter site they specified in 2003 is no longer available. He questions whether it was fair to ask those who held more than 50 pending FM translator applications determine which apps to pursue without knowing in advance that amendments to surviving applications would not be entitled to protection from subsequent LPFM applications.

His discussions with consulting engineers and attorneys who have spoken with agency staff seem to indicate the commission doesn’t anticipate many problems arising from the apparent decision. “Division staffers have also suggested that MX FM translator applicants should proceed without regard to the LPFM window — go ahead and file your technical amendments by July 22,” writes Cole. “The staff has assured [them] that they expect to be very accommodating if and when conflicts arise between amended translator apps and LPFM proposals. They have also indicated that they plan to continue to process routine FM translator applications not involving those still pending from the 2003 window.”

An engineering consultant who contacted RW about this said they were recommending that their clients submit any applications they would want to file as soon as possible.

Radio World hears the commission intends to soon clarify the issue.