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LPFM Watch: Close to 1000 stations granted & more LPFM news

This week we’re up to 983 low-power FM construction permits granted, leaving a little more than 100 singleton, non competitive, applications left to be processed.

More Top 20 Urban Stations

As I reported a couple of weeks ago, the first LPFM in the urban core of a Top 20 market was granted in Phoenix. Since then one station each has been granted in Miami, market #11, and Denver, market #19. Both stations required second-adjacent waivers, which means that they would not have been possible in the first round of LPFM licenses a decade ago. The Denver station goes to the local news site The Colorado Independent.

There were also two stations granted in St. Petersburg, Florida. While part of a tri-city market #18, along with Tampa and Clearwater, Tampa is the largest of the three.

Guel Dual

Recall the case of 245 very similar LPFM applications associated with one man, Antonio Guel, prompting informal objections filed by engineering firm REC Networks and other groups. Guel’s attorney, Dan J. Alpert, struck back at petitions filed by REC, William Boyer and Common Frequency, filing his own “Consolidated Objection” with the FCC.

Alpert’s filing is on behalf of just one application, a singleton submitted by North Sacramento Community Radio. Alpert told the FCC that the objections against that application are “wholly unsupported by any factual basis and contrary to applicable law and precedent.”

He asserts that NSCR is “a (i) locally based organization, and (ii) is a non-profit applicant with a valid educational purpose. Therefore, its application meets all FCC requirements, ands hould be granted.”

Alpert submitted a signed affidavit from Saul Villatoro, President of NSCR, who explains that his group was approached by Guel to participate in the “Project (sic)” and apply for an LPFM, but did not have sufficient time to incorporate as a non-profit in California. That explains why his California-based organization is incorporated in Texas, like many other Guel-associated applicants. Villatoro writes that Guel

“called me and said if we could do it by the State ofTexas in that way it might be faster since he already knew the process. Immediately I told him that was fine and that we accomplish to register to our corporation…”

Alpert goes on to accuse REC of using its informal objection to obstruct Guel applications in order to further the chances of REC’s clients.

In a reply filed with the FCC, REC notes that it “along with Prometheus Radio
Project and Common Frequency (we) were very involved with the LPFM rulemaking process, both before and after the passage of the Local Community Radio Act. Our exercise of our First Amendment rights to object to these applications is a product of our overall advocacy and not intended solely to protect a small number of LPFM applicants that REC provided paperwork for.”

REC says, “The extreme similarities of the 245 applications that were filed with the involvement of Antonio Cesar Guel have caused a major concern across the LPFM advocacy community. This has resulted in all of the “big-three” LPFM advocates to individually raise concerns about the validity of some or all of these applications.”

REC further notes that many of the Guel applications were amended to indicate that applicants would not originate at least eight hours a day of local programming and also would not maintain a publicly accessible local studio. Combined with the fact that applications were filed by organizations names with “very similar words,” REC suggests this “raises the reasonable doubt that these are truly local organizations and not an attempt by Guel to grow his mission by operating de-facto translator stations of Hispanic Christian Community Network.”

In a separate statement REC has offered to withdraw its objections on a “case-by-case basis if solid evidence can be presented that the applicant is a true local organization.”

We will continue to watch this situation, especially as the FCC starts to sort out the assignment of frequencies where Guel-associated applications are competing with other community groups.

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