Bureau issues instructions, guidelines for window filers

In August 9, two items relating to the upcoming filing window for new and major change NCE authorizations were issued.  In a Notice of Proposed Rule Making, the Commission has proposed capping at 10 the number of applications any applicant will be able to file.  The comment and reply comment deadlines, will be established once the NPRM is published in the Federal Register, are short.   Meanwhile, the Bureau issued a public notice setting out the procedures that would apply to window filers, and also providing helpful information concerning the manner in which the Bureau expects to implement its noncommercial comparative analysis.

The NPRM can be found at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-07-145A1.pdf, and the public notice can be found at http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-07-3521A1.pdf.

 The possible need for a cap on applications arises from a number of factors, including: (a) the lack of any filing fee for new NCE permits; (b) the lack of any ownership limits in the NCE band; (c) the fact that, because of a longstanding freeze, no one has been able to file for such permits for more than seven years; and (d) full-service NCE authorizations have considerable value in the marketplace.  Another significant factor is the Commission’s experience in 2003, when it opened a window for new FM translator applications.  No cap was imposed during that window, and more than 13,000 applications rolled in the door – by some estimates more five or six times more than the FCC had originally anticipated.  To avoid a similar avalanche of applications – and the significant disruptions that it can cause – the Commission has proposed the following limit:

A party to an application filed in the NCE FM filing window may hold attributable interests 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 retain the ten applications that were filed first – based on application file number – and 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.

There is an extremely short opportunity to file comments and replies: 15 days and 25 days, respectively, from the date the NPRM is published in the Federal Register.  Check out the NPRM for the nitty-gritty details governing the filing of comments, or contact us.

The Bureau’s public notice does not appear to contain any surprises, but it does put everyone on notice that a freeze on all minor change applications (and amendments thereto) in both the NCE band and Channels 221, 222 and 223 of the commercial band (because of their proximity to, and potential RF impact on, the upper NCE channels) will commence on September 8, 2007 and continue until the close of the window (which is currently set for October 19).