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Translator vs. LPFM Issue Is on NAB’s Mind

Ex parte filing shows its thinking

NAB thinks a proposal regarding translators and LPFMs, put forth by the Educational Media Foundation and Prometheus Radio Project, isn’t fair to AM and FM stations.

The information is from a Sept. 9 ex parte filing at the FCC about a recent meeting with aides of Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Robert McDowell regarding FM translators.

Under the proposal, pending FM translator applications filed during the 2003 translator window would remain on file but not processed while the commission opens an application window for low-power FMs. LPFM applications in such a window would receive a preference over the pending FM translator applications, “thereby allowing such LPFM applicants to effectively trump applicants for pending translators,” writes NAB.

Processing of the pending FM translator applications would resume only after the commission identified the remaining applications that are not superseded by LPFM applications filed during the intervening window.

NAB “expressed concern” that if implemented as drafted, the proposal could harm AM and FM stations trying to get FM translators. NAB “believes that both services are valuable and the agreement’s preference for LPFM over translators for full-service FM and AM radio service is neither warranted as a matter of policy nor consistent with FCC practice and precedent.”

The trade group believes that entities holding 10 or fewer pending FM translator applications would be placed at “significant” risk of forfeiting all or a substantial portion of their potential translator licenses to LPFM stations if the plan were to be implemented.

The plan could slow the processing of FM translator applications for as much as another six years, given the time it would take to open and process an LPFM window, identify which pending FM translator applications to bump in favor of LPFM and then settle the remaining translator applications, believes NAB, which finds that timetable “unacceptable.”

NAB also wrote that it hopes to work with the commission to find ways to address situations where translators may need to be moved to be most useful for full-power stations and most beneficial for listeners.

EMF, Prometheus on Their Understanding” (Aug. 2010)