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LPFM Watch: FCC Grants 107 LPFM Applications, More Oppositions Filed

This week there were some interesting developments on the LPFM front. Most notably, the FCC began to grant LPFM applications yesterday and by day’s end there were 107 non-profit groups that were one step closer to getting on the air with a new licensed radio station. These singleton applicants faced no competition for their frequencies, so are among the first to be granted.

Additionally, we are starting to see some movement within groups of competing applicants (MX groups), as some settlement agreements have been reached. This week, a couple of applicants in Portland, Oregon withdrew their applications as part of a settlement agreement with competing applicant, online community radio station Radio23. Community Media Assistance Project and Disjecta Contemporary Art Center entered into the settlement in order to “conserve Commission resources and enable the earlier inauguration of new noncommercial educational FM broadcast service.”

A number of groups were busy this week filing objections to many of the pending applications. Community radio advocacy groups Common Frequency and Prometheus Radio Project, as well as Rice University filed objections against a number questionable applications. Namely, they all went on record formally objecting various applications prepared by Hispanic Christian Community Network President Antonio Cesar Guel. As we reported last month, REC Networks filed an informal objection against 245 applications prepared by Guel, arguing they don’t represent truly local non-profits. You can monitor the status of those applications on the REC Networks website. So far, 49 of these applications have been dismissed.

Common Frequency filed a Petition to Deny (PDF) against 63 applications, pointing out that they were all prepared by the same person (Antonio Cesar Guel) and arguing that, “the most casual review of any handful of these applications reveals totally haphazard preparation and obvious, sometimes fatal engineering errors.” Additionally, Prometheus Radio Project filed Informal Objections against a number of applications, including one for a Guel-penned application for South Denver Community Radio. In its objection, Prometheus states that the application is “fraudulent” and that South Denver Community Radio is not a local, Denver non-profit.

Rice University focused on Houston, where it is an applicant for a new LPFM. In its Informal Objection to 15 applications in the Houston, Texas region, Rice University argues that,

“…many of the…Houston-area Guel applications have been accepted for filing as singletons or identified as part of an MX group in which Houston is a community of license. Grant of these applications without considering the issues raised below would condone an abuse of FCC processes, frustrate the principles of localism and diversification on which the LPFM service is founded, and harm bona fide LPFM applicants such as Rice.”

Additionally, Rice’s Informal Objection brings to light one additional application prepared by Guel that was not mentioned in the REC Objection. The application for Hilshire Village Community Radio (which currently faces no competition for its frequency) was prepared by Guel. According to Rice’s Objection, “If dismissed, the frequency it proposes could be used by applicants in the Houston MX Groups during the major change window.”

At Radio Survivor we will continue to monitor developments related to these applications and we will also keep a close eye on the growing list of newly granted applications.

LPFM Watch is a weekly feature on Radio Survivor appearing every Thursday.

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