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Groups request LPFM application extension from FCC due to government shutdown

#LPFMAs they promised, a coalition of low-power community radio support groups submitted a filing with the FCC today, the Commission’s first day back at work after the government shutdown, addressing the LPFM licensing window that was originally scheduled to open this past Tuesday. That filing has already been posted to the FCC’s database and is available for viewing online.

Prometheus Radio Project, REC Networks, Common Frequency and are requesting that the FCC either extend the end date of the LPFM filing window–originally set for October 29–by the length of the shutdown plus one week, or suspend the window as planned and reschedule it to later in 2013. Justifying their request, the groups note that during the shutdown there was no access to FCC online tools that are needed by applicants to prepare the technical components of their applications, nor could applicants review the online form or make additions or revisions to applications that had been started. Staff of the Audio Division were also on furlough and unable to assist applicants, which also means the FCC’s Q&A webinar that was scheduled for October 3 did not happen.

The groups also point out that applicants with limited financial resources have been “disproportionately impacted” by the shutdown because they “are more likely to rely on free public software and advice from Audio Division staff. Each of the public interest organizations represented on this letter aids LPFM applicants with free and very low-cost support made by possible by government databases, which were unavailable for 16 days.”

According to Radio World at least one applicant has reported sucessfully filing an LPFM application today, and others confirm that the FCC website is indeed operational and accepting applications.

At the same time, today the FCC announced that all filing deadlines occuring during the shutdown and up to October 21 are suspended. While the LPFM window was scheduled to open during the shutdown its deadline is sheduled for after that October 21 limit. The public notice of suspension also says, “The FCC asks parties to refrain from submitting filings seeking additional relief until they have reviewed the further guidance that the agency will be issuing.” Ambiguous as this statement is, it seems reasonable to expect that more information about the LPFM window will be amongst that “further guidance.”

The FCC also released today a Sixth Order on Reconsideration making decisions about a few remaining open questions about LPFM and translator/repeater stations. We’ll post something about this a litle later today.

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