With Auction 98 now in the works, the Commission has frozen, effective immediately (i.e., as of March 16, 2015):
- All applications proposing to modify any of the 131 vacant non-reserved band FM allotments scheduled for Auction 98 (currently slated to kick off on next July 23);
- All petitions and counterproposals that propose a change in channel, class, community, or reference coordinates for any of the Auction 98 allotments; and
- All applications, petitions and counterproposals that fail to fully protect any Auction 98 Allotment.
Filings in any of the above categories that happen to be submitted after the release of the FCC’s public notice will be dismissed. (Can’t remember what channels are up for grabs in Auction 98? Click here for the current list.) This freeze will remain in effect until the day after the deadline for Auction 98 long form applications – which will likely be sometime in late Summer/early Fall, 2015, at the earliest.
The freeze notice does not impose a freeze on any and all minor mod applications (for commercial or noncommercial stations) during the filing window for short form (Form 175) applications for Auction 98. (The Form 175 filing window hasn’t been announced yet – look for that announcement in a month or two.) Such blanket freezes barring all minor mods during the Short Form window have been standard operating procedure in the last several FM auctions. Given that precedent, if you have a minor mod you’d like to file that doesn’t fit into any of the three freeze categories noted above, you might want to plan on getting it filed before the opening of the Form 175 filing period, just to be on the safe side. Otherwise, your ability to file could be delayed by a month or more. Check back here for updates on the auction schedule.
Freezes like this are routine when it comes to broadcast auctions. The goal is to avoid the creation of any conflicts (unforeseeable or otherwise) with auction proposals that could muck up the auction process.
For more information on Auction 98 itself, see our related post here.