FCC Releases Draft Order on Rulemaking for Optimizing the Permitting Procedures for NCE and LPFM Stations

Submitted by Todd Urick on Fri, 11/22/2019 - 18:12

The FCC just recently released a draft of the Report of Order for MB Docket No. 19-3, a rulemaking concerning modifications to the rules that dictate the procedures for conflicting applications for new non-commercial educational (NCE) FM and low power FM stations, sharetimes, and other odds and ends.  Highlights to changes to the rules are as followed:

  • When applying for new non-commercial stations, applicants no longer need to modify their organization bylaws to claim "established local applicant" and "diversity of ownership" NCE points (the FCC has a "point system" for determining the winners of FM licenses when more than one party applies for a frequency in a certain location).
  • When applying for new non-commercial stations, in case of a "point tie" between applicants, the FCC adds a third tie breaker:  The applicant that has previously applied for a station and lost, or was in a sharetime, receives the last tie breaker point.  FYI, the first tie breaker is the applicant with the least number of authorizations (stations), and the second tie breaker is the applicant with the least number of pending applications.
  • When an applicant is applying for a new NCE station, it may claim diversity of ownership concurrent to a divestiture pledge (i.e., assign the station that precludes the diversity of ownership prior to licensing the station).
  • Members associated with a LPFM that we previously pirates (noted for unlicensed operation) automatically sink that application without the option of modifying the board of director to jettison that person to amend and save the application.
  • FCC limits LPFM timeshares to three groups.  This may be decided during or after the filing window.
  • Changes in board members:  Board member changes to government agencies will be considered minor changes.  Gradual board changes of >50% of the total board will be all considered minor changes.  Previously these major changes required consent from the Commission via application.
  • Applications for new station transmitter locations must have permission from the site prior to applying.
  • Applicants will no longer need to apply for "tolling" to receive more time on a construction permit building period.  Tolling will be automatic in cases of legal contest or other administrative delays.  
  • LPFM permits will be extended from 18 to 24 months.
  • The Commission's three year moratorium from assigning newly-granted licenses is changed to allow assignments. 

The draft now goes to the Commission for voting where it is expected to pass.