FCC's Pai Amends Position On FM-Only Translator Window To Allow 250-Mile Waiver Move First
October 7, 2015 at 1:41 PM (PT)
FCC Commissioner AJIT PAI told the NATIONAL RELIGIOUS BROADCASTERS' President's Council TODAY that he is amending his position on the issue of an AM-only filing window for FM translators to reflect Commissioner MIGNON CLYBURN's concern that AM stations first be given a window in 2016 to buy and move translators within 250 miles with a blanket waiver before a filing window is opened.
PAI's push for the filing window as soon as possible ran into a roadblock when Chairman TOM WHEELER, who PAI told the NRB is the "one vocal opponent in this country" to the proposal, and CLYBURN, who was Interim Chair of the Commission when the filing window was proposed as part of the AM revitalization rulemaking, issued a statement last week backtracking slightly by saying that the filing window could not be opened before the Commission holds its TV spectrum incentive auction. PAI said his move to support the 250-mile waiver was in the "spirit of accommodation" and in line with CLYBURN's concerns.
"To be clear," PAI said, "this is not my first choice. I do not accept, for example, that it would be impossible to open the FM translator window until after the incentive auction. Indeed, I find it strange to be told, on one hand, by the Chairman’s Office that we can’t have an FM translator window because it involves the giveaway of free spectrum, and on the other hand, to be told by the Media Bureau that we can’t conduct the FM translator window until 2017 because our auction personnel are too busy with other matters. Taken together, these arguments don’t appear to reflect principled opposition to holding an FM translator window. But I am willing to do whatever I can to reach a compromise in this proceeding that will help struggling AM broadcasters.... Now, if Commissioners are not willing to vote in accordance with their publicly stated position on an issue, then there is nothing more to be done. It will be obvious that something else is driving the FCC’s decision -- something entirely unrelated to AM radio."