LPFM Advocates File Petition Against Nearly 1000 Pending Translator Applications

FCC Juan Alberto Ayala Translator AbuseCenter for International Media Action, Common Frequency Inc., and Prometheus Radio
Project have filed Informal Objections with the FCC over nearly 1000 pending translator applications due to their supposed violation of the Local Community Radio Act.

The group argues that since 2014 the FCC has failed to ensure spectrum availability for new LPFM stations when granting a translator license. The FCC’s LPFM Sixth Report & Order in 2013 stated, “We agree with the condition advocated by the Joint Petitioners and REC that the proposed translator station cannot preclude approval of a future LPFM application in the grid for that market, under the processing policy delineated in Section II.B of the Fourth Report and Order, or at the proposed out of grid transmitter site. To satisfy this condition, applicants must submit an LPFM preclusion study demonstrating that grant of the proposed translator station will not preclude approval of a future LPFM application. As we explained in the Fourth Report and Order, one of our broad principles for implementation of the LCRA is that our primary focus under Section 5(1) must be to ensure that translator licensing procedures do not foreclose or unduly limit future LPFM licensing, because the more flexible translator licensing standards will make it much easier to license new translator stations in the future. This condition is consistent with that broad principle.”

The objecters plead that during the two 250 mile translator filing windows and two filing windows for new AM fed translators that no LPFM compliance was undertaken. They believe that when processing any LPFM or translator application up to the licensing stage, spectrum for future translator or LPFM must be demonstrated, there should be a 50/50 split of spectrum between the two services, and audit the spectrum to ensure LPFM and translators are given equal footing by either cancelling pending translator applications in a market to give to new LPFMs or to allow the latter to increase power.

The argument goes on to then expect applicants to make filings based on “the needs of the community”, claiming that “Without unbiased/scientific polls undertaken by a third party, the needs of the community remain unascertained. Without this information, translator proposals in translator-laden spectrum markets must be denied.”

In a final argument that has nothing to do with the remainder of the objection, the groups list a number of already granted translators that they believe are short-spaced to LPFMs, but due to current rules the translator can move around to prevent interference but the LPFMs are locked into place claiming that, “The bias preemptively deems service
preference to the translator party, with the LPFM party saddled with one-way mutual
exclusivity.”

The full objection can be read here.

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