Prometheus Thwarts FM Translator Processing Once Again


Philadelphia-based Prometheus Radio Project describes itself on its Twitter page as a non-profit that wishes to “build, support and advocate for community radio stations that empower local voices and movements for social change.”

It supports hundreds of low-power FM radio stations. It’s also emerged as the No. 1 headache for commercial broadcasters seeking to get FM translators granted in the last FCC filing window processed and ready for sign-on.

As Wilkinson Barker Knauer attorney David Oxenford notes in a blog post offered today, Common Frequency and Prometheus have again asked the FCC to halt the processing of hundreds of still-pending FM translators from the last translator filing window.

The pending applications are the last remaining application from the window which allowed AM stations to seek FM translators to rebroadcast their signals, Oxenford notes.

The latest filing is an application for review of the FCC Media Bureau’s denial of the initial Informal Objection to the translator applications, and the Bureau’s subsequent denial of reconsideration of that action.

“The LPFM advocates have been arguing that these new translators will preclude opportunities for new LPFM stations and changes in existing LPFMs,” Oxenford notes. “The Bureau’s denial of the initial petition was based on a number of factors, including that the advocates had not shown how any one of the hundreds of pending translator applications would have an impact on LPFM opportunities. Moreover, the FCC staff found that nothing in the Local Community Radio Act, which governs the relationship between LPFM stations and FM translators, mandates that every application in every window be reviewed for the its preclusive impact on future applications.”

Reconsideration of the FCC staff’s decision was denied in July on procedural grounds, Oxenford says, finding that the advocates had not shown that they were a party to all of these applications — and thus they had no standing to file a reconsideration request.

“In the just-filed application for review, the advocates challenge the procedural decision as well as the substantive findings that their initial objections had no merit,” he says. “Yet, their arguments still miss the fundamental unfairness of their blanket filing against hundreds of applications — many serving rural areas where there is no spectrum shortage — without any showing as to why any individual application should be denied. And they do not explain how any application for a translator or an LPFM would ever be processed if each had to show that any application for a new station in one service does not preclude a station in the other.”

He concludes, “Their contention that grant of these translators would cut off LPFM opportunities and thus violate the LCRA’s language requiring that LPFMs and FM translators be treated equally and that opportunities need to be provided for both, would seemingly also compel the dismissal of any future LPFM application that could cut off FM translator opportunities. If their position was adopted, seemingly no application for an LPFM or a translator could ever get processed. We will await the full FCC’s decision on this latest filing which, if recent history is any judge, may well come quickly.”