Low Power FM Lesson

Posted on June 5th, 2013 by

A candidate for a new Low Power FM station recently learned the hard way that non-profit existence is a key to being a qualified LPFM applicant.

In 2000, the company filed an application for a new LPFM station, only to find its application dismissed because at the time of the filing, it was not a public agency or non-profit private foundation, corporation or association, and was therefore ineligible to hold an LPFM license. The applicant had failed to incorporate in time for the application filing, but asked the Media Bureau’s Audio Division to reconsider its dismissal. In 2007 the staff rejected that request. Undeterred, the applicant challenged the Bureau decision to the full Commission, arguing that under state law, its pre-application activities warranted a status of “association.” The Commission finally responded in May 2013 (about thirteen years after the initial application filing), finding that the argument had been waived and that the applicant’s attempt to “re-cast” itself as a nonprofit association prior to its late-filed incorporation was not acceptable.

This decision is a good reminder for LPFM applicants in the coming filing window that a legal non-profit entity must exist before the LPFM application is submitted. If the entity is being formed at the last minute, applicants should make absolutely certain that the entity is legally in existence at the time of application submission. If the entity has existed for some time before application, it’s a good idea to confirm that the entity’s corporate or company status has not lapsed.