Comments Pro And Con Flood FCC In Allocations Docket
July 17, 2009 at 4:57 AM (PT)
The FCC received a large batch of comments in its proceeding about rule changes in the Commission's procedures for allotments and assignments, including a filing by PROMETHEUS RADIO PROJECT and NATIONAL FEDERATION OF COMMUNITY BROADCASTERS that said the organizations are "pleased with the Commission’s recognition that its current distribution process for broadcast frequencies ... requires fundamental changes" and noting that the present system "encourages abuse and runs contrary to its goals to award licenses that will promote diversity and localism."
PROMETHEUS noted its own study that analyzed community of license changes in the first half of 2008 that showed "none of the licensees claiming the first local transmission service actually had a studio located within their community of license." "Low-power stations and local communities are especially at risk" from move-ins, the filing said, recommending that the FCC "adopt an approach which recognizes that commercial licensees are most likely intending to serve the most populous community in their service area and not the stated community of license" and "assume the local community or urbanized area within a primary service contour with the greatest number of residents is the actual community of license" with a narrow test based on population within the 60 dBu contour for applicants actually intending to serve the proposed city.
Cox Claims Move-ins Would Be Difficult
COX RADIO's filing opposed the proposed changes, claiming that making move-ins more difficult "effectively would lock many stations into their existing facilities at their existing communities of license. As an unintended consequence, the Commission would prevent new competition from entering into metropolitan areas, which would have a disproportionate effect on minority broadcasters and stations with niche formats." COX also opposed the Commission's proposed use of a strict terrain threshold requirement before an applicant can use LONGLEY-RICE analysis to show coverage.
A joint filing of 32 entities including the MINORITY MEDIA TELECOMMUNICATIONS COUNCIL, RADIO ONE, and several smaller station groups complained that "the Commission’s proposals will actually be harmful to the goals of diversity, the provision of service to unserved communities, and the Commission’s statutory mandate under Section 307(b)." The groups said that the Commission, by eliminating the present rules allowing move-ins, would "set the clock back 25 years ... the Commission is telling broadcasters that they cannot improve their facilities even if the spectrum would otherwise permit the improvement. While these proposals will affect all broadcasters to some extent, the impact on minorities will be disproportionately greater by placing insurmountable barriers in the way of reaching their audiences."
Also opposing the changes were EDUCATIONAL MEDIA FOUNDATION, BUSTOS MEDIA, MUNBILLA BROADCASTING SERVICES, MEDIA TECHNOLOGY VENTURES, BRANTLEY BROADCAST ASSOCIATES, FRANK G. MCCOY, MULLANEY ENGINEERING (noting that changing the rules would be "the proverbial closing the barn door now that the horses have escaped"), CARL T. JONES CORPORATION, a group of nine smaller group owners, and AMERICAN MEDIA SERVICES.
NAB Supports Diversity Efforts
The NAB filed brief comments saying that the organization "broadly supports the Commission’s efforts to enhance radio diversity and help new entrants and we respectfully submit that any rule changes arising out of the Notice must not hinder or jeopardize broadcasters' ability to provide unique, attractive programming and thereby survive in the increasingly competitive media marketplace."
CHEROKEE NATION supported the proposed tribal preference but objected to the criterion that requires stations to provide a first local service to the proposed community of license. NATIVE PUBLIC MEDIA and THE NATIONAL CONGRESS OF AMERICAN INDIANS also supported the tribal preference. Engineering firm DUTREIL, LUNDIN AND RACKLEY opposed formally changing the guidelines for using alternate propagation models to address terrain variations and also opposed adoption of the Service Value Index to determine priorities based on population. GLADES MEDIA, locked in a community of license dispute with WILLIAM B. CLAY over its proposed move of WAFC-F/CLEWISTON, FL to PALM BEACH GARDENS, asked that any changes not be applied to previously-filed change applications. CLAY himself filed comments proposing different criteria for community of license changes, echoing his position in the WAFC case.
COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES, INC. called for standard methodology for supplemental showings to address whether a community of license is covered. HATFIELD AND DAWSON offered its own suggestions for changes to the consideration of whether a proposal covers an urbanized area. SACRED HEART UNIVERSITY, CREATIVE EDUCATIONAL MEDIA CORP., PRIORITY RADIO, INC., CAMERON UNIVERSITY, and POSITIVE ALTERNATIVE RADIO, INC. filed proposed restrictions on "band-hopping" that would displace FM translators. BOOTH, FRERET, IMLAY & TEPPER, P.C. filed comments discussing the effect of some of the proposals on AM stations and whether the unique nature of AM ("a small and particularly unhealthy segment of the broadcast industry") is being adequately considered.