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Here Comes A Look At NCE, LPFM Standards and Procedures.

The FCC on Thursday went into skeleton crew mode, as the bulk of the agency's staff this afternoon said goodbye to their office space for an undetermined amount of time due to the ongoing partial shutdown of the Federal government.

Ahead of the unpaid, unwelcome vacation, the Commission released the tentative agenda for its January 2019 Open Meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 30. On the agenda: the consideration of a NPRM that provides revisions to the FCC's noncommercial FM and low-power FM comparative processing and license rules.

With a Public Notice distributed Thursday (1/3), the Media Bureau openedMB Docket No. 19-3,titled the"Reexamination of the Comparative Standards and Procedures for Licensing Noncommercial EducationalBroadcast and Low Power FM Stations."

Presentations are welcome, and are subject to "permit-but-disclose" ex parte rules.

Why is the NPRM up for debate and discussion?

Competing applications for the same new noncommercial educational FM and television stationand low power FM broadcast station channel, otherwise known as "mutually exclusive" (MX)applications, are resolved by applying comparative procedures.

This includes a point system, for selecting amongMX applications.

While the NCE and LPFM comparative procedures used in past filing windows facilitated the

grant of several thousand new station construction permits, "certain rules and procedures confused and frustrated applicants, drew criticism, or delayed or curtailed the initiation of new service," the FCC admits.

As such, the measures proposed in this NPRM, it says, "are expected to clarify, simplify, and otherwise improve our selection and licensing procedures for newNCE broadcast and LPFM stations, expedite the initiation of new service to the public, eliminate unnecessary

applicant burdens, and reduce the number of appeals of our NCE comparative licensing decisions."

What will the notice do?

* Propose to eliminate the current requirement that NCE applicants amend their governing documents topledge that localism/diversity be maintained in order to receive points as "established local applicants" and for "diversity of ownership."

* Seek comment on ways to improve the NCE tie-breaker process and reduce the need for mandatory timesharing, and propose to adopt a mandatory time-share resolution process to minimize the drawbacks of mandatory time-sharing.

* Propose to clarify aspects of the "holding period" during which NCE permittees must maintain the characteristics for which they received comparative preferences.

* Propose to modify and clarify the LPFM rules to specifically permit LPFM applicants to discuss theirintent to aggregate points and time-share prior to tentative selectee designations and establish proceduresfor LPFM point aggregation time-share agreements that have been accepted, but later deemed invalid.

* Propose to reclassify as "minor" (1) all ownership changes to governmental applicants, provided that thechange has little or no effect on such applicant's mission, and (2) gradual board changes in non-stock and membership LPFM and NCE applicants.

* Propose to eliminate certain tolling notification requirements and toll NCE and LPFM broadcastconstruction deadlines without notification from the permittee, based on certain pleadings pending before,or actions taken by, the agency.

* Propose to extend the LPFM construction period from 18-months to a full three years.

* Propose to allow the assignment/transfer of LPFM permits after an 18-month holding period and eliminate the three-year holding period on assigning LPFM licenses subject to certain safeguards.

TheComment Date would be 60 days after date of publication in the Federal Register. TheReply Comment Date would be 90 days after date of publication.

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Publication:Radio and Television Business Report (RBR+TVBR)
Date:Jan 3, 2019
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