• FM Translator Filing Window
  • May 7, 2003 | Author: Gregg P. Skall
  • Law Firm: Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice - Washington Office
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced a filing window from Monday, March 10 through 6:00 PM EST Friday, March 14, 2003 for new and major change commercial FM translator applications.

    The window represents the first chance to file new and major change applications since November 26, 1997, when a freeze had been imposed. Many broadcasters will want to seize this opportunity. Fill-in translators of up to 250 watts effective radiated power can provide service wholly within the primary station's protected service contour. Although community groups and others desiring to extend a broadcaster's service may apply, translators extending beyond the protected contour may not be owned or supported by the licensee or any entity having an interest in or connection with the primary station. The new applications will be subject to the Commission's auction procedures.

    Pending close of the window, a freeze has been imposed on FM translator and FM booster minor change applications. Minor change applications filed during the freeze will be dismissed.

    The upcoming window is available for:

    • Non-reserved band (channels 221 to 300) proposals for new FM translator stations and major modifications to authorized facilities.
    • New and major modification applications received on or before November 26,1997, but for which no "A" cutoff list had been released by that date.
    • New and major modification applications filed after November 26, 1997 that requested a freeze waiver.

    Applications submitted during the window, as well as freeze waiver applications must protect all minor change applications filed on or before February 7, 2003. To participate in the auction, applicants must file a Form 349 application and submit a Form 175 during the window. All forms must be filed electronically. No fee is required for these filings. A separate Form 175 must be filed by each applicant, but the Form 175 must cover all of that applicant' s Forms 349. Please note that Form 175 and its attachments require substantially more information concerning ownership and other media interests than the translator application itself. It also requires a certification (for not only the applicant but all owners and affiliated entities) of no delinquency on any non-tax debt (including FCC fees) owed to any Federal agency.

    If a Form 349 application is already on file and no changes are necessary, only the Form 175 need be filed. If any information in an existing application is no longer complete and accurate, then the applicant must file a new Form 349 application and must request dismissal of the previous paper Form 349. Forms 349 are to include Section I the Tech Box of Section III, and the Section VI Certification. Paper amendments to pending Form 349 applications will not be accepted.

    Once the window has closed, the Commission will review the applications to determine mutual exclusivity. A public notice will be released identifying conflicting applications and specifying a period for resolving mutual exclusivity by the filing of technical amendments, dismissals, and requests for approval of universal settlements. No amendments will be accepted between the close of the filing window and the public notice. The Commission's anti-collusion rules, which generally prohibit competing applicants from communicating with each other about bids, bidding strategies or settlements, will apply to translator applications as of 6:00 PM EST on March 14. Mutually exclusive applicants may communicate with each other to resolve conflicts only during the settlement period. Please note that agreements with other entities, including joint bidding arrangements, will have to be fully disclosed on the Form 175 and therefore must be determined by the close of the filing window.

    Applications that are determined not to be mutually exclusive will be identified in a public notice and instructed to submit the entire FCC Form 349 and the appropriate filing fee (currently $600), if required, within 30 days.

    The Commission has issued detailed instructions concerning the preparation of the necessary forms and other procedures that are applicable to window filings. It is important that you review these carefully if you intend to participate. We will be glad to provide you with a copy upon request.

    The upcoming window is the first opportunity to file commercial FM translator applications in over five years. It is unclear when the next opportunity is likely to arise. If you are interested in submitting applications in the upcoming window and would like our assistance, please advise us immediately of your plans.