In an effort to make sure that Native American entities have a chance to gain the benefit of commercial radio service geared to their own particular needs and culture, the FCC has adopted an item under the title “Policies to Promote Rural Radio Service and to Streamline Allotment and Assignment Procedures” that takes major steps to that end.
The FCC said, “…we continue our efforts to enhance the ability of federally recognized Native American Tribes and Alaska Native Villages (collectively “Tribes”) not only to receive radio service tailored to their specific needs and cultures, but to increase ownership of such radio stations by Tribes and Tribal-owned entities.”
The proceeding, which has reached the Third Report and Order stage, seeks to make open FM allotments available to tribes, while at the same time guarding against the possible “warehousing” of CPs by entities that are unprepared to act on them, while at the same time eliminating unnecessary barriers and avoiding unnecessary delays for tribes that are ready and willing to build a station right away.
“The procedures we adopt herein are intended to balance these concerns by accommodating both those Tribes and Tribal entities that wish to initiate commercial FM service quickly and those that might need additional time to muster the resources needed to apply for a new station and complete construction,” wrote the FCC.
It said that the fact that the stations are intended to provide commercial service should make them self-sustaining.
The item will be one of the final items, if not the final item, to receive a vote from outgoing Commissioner Michael Copps. He commented, “I am happy to support this item today in the continued effort to bring new voices and media outlets to Tribal Lands. The Tribal Qualification we adopt in this Report and Order will, I believe, lead to licensing significantly more Tribal entities to serve Native American Tribes and Alaska Native Villages. This is a down-payment on the FCC’s commitment to enhance the ownership of Tribal entities by establishing certain criteria which will prioritize ownership for qualified Tribes or Tribal entities. I commend the Chairman for moving quickly on this item. It is my hope and expectation that the Commission will continue this important work in the months and years ahead. During my time at the Commission I have endeavored to make bringing modern telecommunications to Indian Country a priority. Today’s action is a wonderful step in that direction.”