Common Frequency and Prometheus Radio Project Appeal FCC's Rejection of Failure to Ensure LPFM Channels

Submitted by Todd Urick on Sat, 03/14/2020 - 16:18

On February 4, 2020 the FCC released a Letter Decision denying a contest from Common Frequency and Prometheus Radio Project over the licensing of a new FM translator W239DS in Camden, N.J. concerning foreclosure of airspace of community radio station WPPM-LP Philadelphia, P.A.  The contest was over the greater injustice nationwide concerning policies related to the Local Community Radio Act (LCRA) -- the Congressional mandate that reserves airspace for future Low Power FM station licensing.    

Section 5 of LCRA calls for a balance between two FM broadcast services -- "FM Translators" and "LPFM" -- that share the same type of "secondary service" FM spectrum.  Specifically, CF and PRP cite that Section 5 of LCRA calls for the FCC to reserve a certain amount of spectrum for future LPFM licensing.  It additionally calls for the allotment of new secondary service stations -- either LPFM or Translator -- to be determined via the needs to the community.  CP and PRP provided evidence that the FCC abdicated within their duty to ensure future LPFM channels, or gauge the needs of the community.  Instead, the FCC extended licensing of FM translators with disregard to standing policy that guides allocation of both services.  The resultant was open channels that could have been used for LPFM in all cities being used by translator service.

The FCC, within its reply to CF and PRP's original petition, fabricates post hoc reasoning for compliance with LCRA, stating that multiple procedures within the application filing auction for FM translators provided ample conservation of LPFM channels.  The FCC in essence took procedures implicit to normal protocols for a FM translator filing window and attributed them to apposite LCRA spectrum conservation measures -- all in retrospect.  The FCC provides not proof of their effectiveness or how the measures were applicable to LCRA policy.  FCC additionally ignored the evidence CF and PRP provided within the petition that demonstrated their processing policy did not conserve LPFM spectrum.

On March 4, 2020, the organizations appealed the decision within an Application for Review.  The Review thoroughly dissects the Commission's arbitrary and capricious actions in accord with Administrative Procedure Act.  The petition can be read here.