FCC Dismisses And Denies Blanket Objection Filed Against All Pending FM Translator Applications

The FCC’s Audio Division has dismissed and denied the informal objection by CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL MEDIA ACTION, COMMON FREQUENCY, INC., and PROMETHEUS MEDIA PROJECT filed against 994 applications for FM translators.

In dismissing and denying the petition, which was filed against virtually every pending translator application as of the date of filing (WEDNESDAY, MAY 16th, 2018), the Commission, in a response by Audio Division Chief ALBERT SHULDINER, termed the objections, which contended that Section 5 of the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 requires translators, boosters, and LPFMs to be treated equally and therefore translator applications must show the future availability of LPFM licenses, overbroad. The Commission noted that the objection covered all pending applications whether they involved new translators or modifications (moves) to existing translators, and that the plain language of the LCRA requires dismissal of the objection as to the latter. Fify-five applications had been granted and 35 dismissed on or before MAY 16th and thus the objection was dismissed as to them as well.

In addition, the Commission said that the petition failed to allege specific facts that would make the grants inconsistent with the public interest, merely making a conclusory blanket statement that all 994 applications failed to comply with the LCRA. The petition only offered a statement about ten facilities that “a cursory examination … quickly revealed … would preclude the possibility of an LPFM station at the same location,” to which the Commission replied that “nothing in the language of Section 5 of LCRA requires that LPFM licenses be available at the same location as a translator or booster application.” Five of the 10 were granted on or before MAY 16th, and one was dismissed.

The Commission added that nothing in the LCRA requires equal apportionment of spectrum to translators, boosters, and LPFMs, pointing out that there is not equal demand for the three types of stations. And the denial contended that “the language of Section 5 of the LCRA cannot reasonably be read to place the responsibility on each individual applicant to provide evidence that its application leaves sufficient spectrum in its area for any future LPFM stations, absent specific Commission direction to do so. Quite simply, Objectors may not demand actions by individual applicants that are not required either by statute or by the Commission’s rules and forms, and Objectors have not alleged with specificity any other procedural infirmities with the applications to which they have objected.”