Changes Adopted to New NCE FM and LPFM Application Processing Rules

Posted on December 31st, 2019 by

The next time the FCC opens filing windows for new NCE FM and Low Power FM stations, a new set of processing rules will be in place. By Order adopted December 11, 2019, the FCC made numerous changes to those rules.

For mutually exclusive NCE applications, where a points system is used to determine which applicant is awarded the permit, applicants will no longer have to amend their governing documents to maintain localism/diversity in order to receive points for being established local applicants and diversity of ownership. In addition, if applicants end up in a tie after points are tallied, an applicant that was unsuccessful in prior FCC filing windows would receive a preference if all other tie-breaker criteria have not broken the tie.

New applicants will also have to certify that they have reasonable assurance for their proposed transmitter sites (that requirement exists now, but is not one that has to be certified in an application).

The FCC also reclassified as “minor” ownership changes to government applicants and to non-profit boards that have gradual changes. Previously, such changes were considered “major” and a pending application was dismissed as a result.

Once awarded, the old rule restricting a change in transmitter sites for permits awarded with a 307(b) preference has been eliminated, allowing winning applicants to change sites if a new underserved service area is as great from that site as the one originally specified on the permit. This rule often resulted in a winning applicant not being able to construct facilities after losing a transmitter site.