FCC sides with community radio on non-commercial filing limit

This (doc) is good news for the many local community groups, schools, microbroadcasters and others applying for full-power radio licenses this month, during the FCC's rare application window for new noncommercial stations:

FCC 07-179
Released: October 10, 2007

FCC ADOPTS LIMIT FOR NCE FM NEW STATION APPLICATIONS IN OCTOBER 12 OCTOBER 19, 2007 WINDOW
MM Docket No. 95-31

On April 4, 2007, the Media Bureau ( Bureau ) of the Federal Communications Commission ( Commission ) announced a filing window opening on Friday, October 12, 2007 and closing on Friday, October 19, 2007 for FM reserved band (channels 201 220) applications for noncommercial educational ( NCE ) FM new station and major change applications.1 On August 9, 2007, the Commission issued a public notice (the Notice ) seeking comment on a proposed limit of ten NCE FM new station applications during the window for any party.2 For the reasons stated below, the Commission is adopting the proposed ten-application limit on NCE FM new station applications filed by any party during the window.

Summary of Comments

More than 10,000 comments were filed in response to the Notice. The overwhelming majority of the commenters support the proposed limit of ten new station applications filed by any party during the window.3 In addition to thousands of individual commenters, the supporters of the proposed cap include Native Public Media, Akaku Maui Community Television, Colquitt Community Radio, Inc., Omni Center for Peace, Justice, and Ecology, Interlochen Public Radio, Kol Ami Havurah, Capital Community Television, Driftless Community Radio, Inc., Prometheus Radio Project, DIYmedia, Free Press, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, National Federation of Community Broadcasters, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ, Station Resource Group, Public Radio Capital, Pacifica Foundation, Public Radio International, California Public Radio, Western States Public Radio, College Broadcasters, Inc., Eastern Region Public Media, Brown Broadcast Services, Reclaim the Media and Common Frequency...
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Conclusion

The number of comments filed in response to the Notice underscores the importance of the upcoming NCE FM filing window and the high level of public interest in that window and in the NCE FM service. We appreciate the interest shown on this issue and the viewpoints expressed by the commenters. We adopt the following limitation on applications in the upcoming NCE FM filing window:

A party to an application filed in the NCE FM filing window opening on Friday, October 12, 2007 may hold attributable interests1 in no more than a total of ten applications filed in the window. If it is determined that any party to an application has an attributable interest in more than ten applications, the Bureau will process only the ten applications that were filed first (based on file number). The Bureau will dismiss all other applications. Major modification applications will not count toward the limit. Pending new and major change applications filed under former licensing procedures also will not count toward the limit.

This decision helps assure that the FCC will be able to assign new non-commercial radio stations to small local groups, by prohibiting large organizations from submitting a large number of cookie-cutter applications across the country. This tactic was infamously used in the past by certain evangelist Christian groups to create far-flung networks of FM translators, taking up frequencies that could be put to better use by local communities.

The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. -John Dewey