New NCE-FM Filing Window Will Happen in 2021

Posted on October 30th, 2020 by

In a recent Public Notice seeking comment on whether the FCC should cap the number of applications one entity can file during a filing window for new noncommercial FM construction permits, the FCC directed the Media Bureau to open a filing window for those applications during 2021.  No date was announced, but the Notice promised to provide dates and details in a separate public notice “during the next several months.”  We’ll go out on a limb and predict a late spring-early summer filing window, but it is anyone’s guess.

Interested parties can file comments on the applications cap, which the FCC has tentatively decided will be ten.  But the Notice contains other interesting clues to the anticipated filing window, including that unlike the last such window in 2007, major modifications to existing stations will not be allowed.  Instead, those seeking to expand coverage will have to file an application for a new station and agree to turn in the existing license when the new station is built.

Back in 2007, the FCC gave about 60 days advance notice of when the window would be held, and the filing window itself was only 7 days long.  If you’re thinking of possibly participating, now is a good time to secure the services of a consulting engineer and counsel.  Now is also a good time to review the FCC’s somewhat recent changes to the way it decides who wins a construction permit when there are competing applicants for the same spectrum.