LPFM advocates have had about four full days to mine the FCC’s database of applications from the filing window. Broadcast engineering firms Skywaves and REC Networks both put the exact count of applications at 2,799, which is fewer than the 2,819 I reported last week. According to the CommLawBlog the difference can be accounted for by the fact that applications for major changes to existing stations were
erroneously also filed in this window.
For those who don’t want to deal with the FCC’s database, Skywaves has a downloadable PDF listing all applications ordered by city and state.
Many in the community radio and LPFM communities were hoping that more groups would have applied for stations in this window. Common Frequency president Clay Leander said his group is aware of “yet more qualified nonprofits who were in need of assistance with 2nd adjacent exhibits and other engineering tasks who didn’t get to follow through with filings.” He explained that there was an “engineering crunch,” as some groups waited for final rulings from the FCC that only came on October 17, the same day that Commission staff returned from the government shutdown and the LPFM filing window belatedly opened. While Leander emphasized that “we are most appreciative to the Congress and the FCC for enacting and implementing the LCRA (Local Community Radio Act),” he also said “Procedurally, some things were not properly sequenced.”
After sorting through the applications, REC Networks has flagged applications that are likely to be invalid, including ones that are duplicate, those filed by individuals instead of an organization or group, and applications outside the US. If those are taken out of consideration, then there are 2,399 left.
Already the FCC dismissed seven applications on Monday, mainly for being duplicates. The Commission marked 700 applications as “accepted for filing,” which means that the Commission gave them a once-over before a thorough processing begins.
My fellow Radio Survivors have been digging into the applications, too. Jennifer identified approximately 100 college-affiliated applicants, and explored the 15 applicants for stations in San Francisco. Matthew found 21 curious and amusing applicant groups names that he’ll be keeping an eye on. We’ll continue sifting through, drilling down into some big metro areas and looking for anything fishy.
Unfortunately, there do appear to be applications that may not be compliant with LPFM rules. In particular, there may be groups that are behind multiple applications, while the FCC’s rules strictly state that, with few exceptions, a group may only apply for and obtain one LPFM license. In a statement posted Saturday, Michi Eyre of REC Networks said, “REC is currently investigating many applications that may be a part of larger organizations who are attempting to undermine the localism of the LPFM service.”
The FCC’s next step is to process all the singleton applications. Those are applications for frequencies in which there is no competing application. REC counts a total of 1,488 singletons. Qualified groups with valid singleton applications may expect to receive construction permits by the beginning of the year.
After that the Commission will begin reviewing competing applications, which are called “MX” applications, which is short for “mutually exclusive.” The FCC has a number of methods for resolving competing applications, and tends to look favorably upon groups that want to work together, including entering into a timeshare agreement for a frequency. If your group has an MX application it would be a good idea to work with the consultants who assisted with your filing, or contacting one of the LPFM advocacy and support groups listed on our About LPFM page.
Revisions made since publication: a reader pointed out that requests for major changes to existing LPFM stations were eligible during the recent window. I had mistakenly called them “erroneous.” The correction is made above.