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LPFM Watch: FCC Uses ‘Rocket Docket’ to Resolve Contentious Philly MX

New low-power FM construction permits continue to trickle out. One new one was issued this week to Nueva Imagen Community Church in McAllen, Texas.

‘Rocket Docket’ Resolves Contentious Philly MX

The FCC resolved a highly contentious fight between two time-share groups for one frequency in Philadelphia, using the so-called “rocket docket” process intended to speed up the Application for Review process for appealing decisions. We first covered this situation more than a year ago, where two groups competing for 92.9 FM–The Social Justice Law Project of the local NAACP chapter and Nueva Esperanza–filed petitions to deny against four other groups: G-Town Radio, Historic Germantown Preserved, Germantown Life Enrichment Center, and Germantown United Community Development Corporation. That petition alleged that the latter four groups coordinated in advance of filing their LPFM applications so that they could combine for a winning time share later.

That petition was denied by the Commission, and the four different Germantown groups were tentatively selected for construction permits in a time-share arrangement. This prompted Nueva Esperanza to file a petition for reconsideration that was also denied, followed by an Application for Review. In the AFR the group charged that the other groups should not be able to aggregate their points for a winning timeshare because they should have waited until after applications were submitted and they received formal notification from the FCC about the MX group competing for one frequency.

The Commission denied this appeal, finding that there was no rule prohibiting groups from coordinating possible time-shares in advance of filing their applications. Furthermore, the Commission said that a September 2013 blog post by the Chief of the Media Bureau which Nueva Esperanza claimed as evidence of this prohibition was not actually evidence of such. In fact, the post plainly indicates that it was permissible for applicants to coordinate prior to filing applications:

“Alternatively, organizations in a community could apply separately – for the same or different frequency – knowing that they may decide later to aggregate points so they can negotiate a time-share agreement if the Commission determines that they are tied with the highest point total in the same mutually exclusive group.”

In its decision the FCC did not determine as a matter of fact that the four Germantown groups indeed had coordinated prior to filing their applications. Rather, the Commission said that accusation or proof that such had occurred would not be the basis for a legitimate petition to deny.

To dig deeper into this situation check out Radio World’s and REC Network’s coverage.

LPFMs in the News

  • North Country Public Radio visits WBTS-LP, which broadcasts from the Better Farm in Jefferson County, New York.
  • ARLNow takes note that Arlington Virginia’s new WERA-LP is now on the air.
  • Minneapolis area KALY-LP is the first Somali-American owned station in the US, which we first covered in October. The Minneapolis Post and the Minnesota Daily both write about this station and three additional LPFMs going on the air in the area.
  • KNCP-LP started broadcasting in La Pine, Oregon this past February, and The Bend Bulletin gives it a profile.

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