NAB calls proposed FM translator dismissal policy premature


The FCC’s latest proposal to implement the Local Community Radio Act and foment the creation of new LPFM stations suggests blanket dismissals of pending FM translator applications in markets where no obvious room for them is apparent. NAB has five reasons to ask for reconsideration.

Before getting into its reasons for keeping pending translator applications alive, NAB applauded the FCC’s strong affirmation of the use of translators to improve the service profile of existing AM stations. NAB said some 500 stations have benefitted thus far and hopes to add more AMs to that list. It also commended and acknowledged the challenges of the FCC’s effort to find a method of implementing LCRA in a way that makes it possible to increase both the number of LPFMs and FM translators.

It had a number of comments on the FCC’s proposal to either process or dismiss the large body of FM translator applications, based on the amount of dial space the FCC believed to be available in each metro area.

First, NAB suggests the FCC use Arbitron market definitions rather than a city grid methodology to determine frequency availability, as the latter approach increases the number of areas up for blanket dismissals. Arbitron definitions, NAB argues, will be more accurate and have the advantage of already being as a “regulatory benchmark.”

Second, if the dismissal of all FM translators would leave no LPFM holes, NAB would prefer that no dismissals be effected, since there would be no immediate purpose served by the dismissal.

Third, there should be no dismissals until it is determined how many LPFMs might be co-located on a given channel, which is possible in numerous locations. If co-location allows FCC to grant its target number of LPFMs in places where the preliminary study made it seem impossible, the pending translator applications in those locations would have been dismissed unnecessarily.

Fourth, mutually exclusive FM translator applicants should be allowed to go through a negotiated settlement phase to reduce the number of remaining pending applications.

Fifth and finally, NAB notes that after eight years have passed, many of the translator applicants may no longer have an interest in pursuing the matter or may be out of business; and the field of applications should be weeded out to eliminate those that are no longer being actively pursued.