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Friday, November 03, 2006

AM/FM Allocations Streamlining Adopted by FCC

The FCC at its meeting this morning (11/2/2006) adopted the "Allocations Streamlining" item which allows for AM and FM stations to change city of license through the filing of a minor change application. Previously, to change a city of license, an FM station had to use rule making procedures, and an AM station had to wait for a major change window. The Commission also extended the availability of the new procedures to FM stations on the non-commercial portion of the FM band.

As is the case now, any application to change a city of license must be mutually exclusive with the existing facility (the daytime facility for AM), and must submit a showing as to how the goals of Section 307(b) are met.

Broadcasters filing applications for such community of license changes will be required to give public notice of the proposed change in the affected local communities. Also, the FCC will publish all proposed community of license changes in the Federal Register, entertain informal objections to them and not take any action on such applications until 60 days has elapsed from the date of Federal Register notice.

The current freeze on the filing of new rule making petitions will be lifted 30 days after the report and order is published in the Federal Register.

The Commission also adopted a proposal under which an allocations rule making proponent seeking a new channel allotment must at the same time of the filing submit an FCC Form 301 with the new station application filing fee which is currently $2,980.

Until now, allocation filings were required to be on paper, even though most other rule making filings were filed electronically. The Commission will now accept allocation petitions for rule making, comments, counterproposals and other filings through its ECFS electronic filing system.
The Commission deferred action on its proposal to limit to a maximum of five the number of changes that could be proposed in a rule making proceeding, stating it would assess the impact of the changes to the current rules make before further considering such a limit. The Commission did state that the Media Bureau is authorized to break up large proposals where possible into smaller ones.

The Commission maintains its policy prohibiting the move of a sole local service from a community except in exceptional circumstances on a case-by-case basis.

It can be expected that the floodgates will open for both minor change applications and for rule making petitions on the effective date of the report and order adopting these changes. At this point, that date is unknown. Assuming that the full text of the rule changes is released in the next several weeks, the effective date is likely to be sometime in early January, 2007.


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