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LPFM Fourth Report and Order and Third Order on Reconsideration

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Released: March 19, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-29

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Creation of a Low Power Radio Service
)
MM Docket No. 99-25
)
Amendment of Service and Eligibility Rules for )
MB Docket No. 07-172
FM Broadcast Translator Stations
)
RM-11338

FOURTH REPORT AND ORDER AND THIRD ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION

Adopted: March 19, 2012

Released: March 19, 2012

By the Commission:

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-29

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Creation of a Low Power Radio Service
)
MM Docket No. 99-25
)
Amendment of Service and Eligibility Rules )
MB Docket No. 07-172
for FM Broadcast Translator Stations
)
RM-11338

FOURTH REPORT AND ORDER AND THIRD ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION

Adopted: March 19, 2012

Released: March 19,

2012
By the Commission:

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Heading
Paragraph #
I. INTRODUCTION .....................................................................................................................1
II. DISCUSSION............................................................................................................................4
A. Section 5 of the LCRA: Broad Interpretive Principles.......................................................4
1. Background....................................................................................................................4
2. Comments......................................................................................................................7
a. Section 5(1) – Ensuring that licenses are available .................................................8
b. Section 5(2) – Assessing the “needs of the local community”..............................10
c. Section 5(3) – “Equal in status” ............................................................................12
3. Analysis .......................................................................................................................16
B. Implementing Section 5 of the LCRA: Proposed Market-Based Processing Policy........28
1. Background..................................................................................................................28
2. Comments....................................................................................................................32
a. Defining the Market and Channel Floors ..............................................................33
b. Translator Amendment and Settlement Procedures ..............................................35
3. Analysis - Revised Translator Application Processing and Dismissal Policies ..........38
C. Prevention of Trafficking in Translator Station Construction Permits and Licenses........50
1. Background..................................................................................................................50
2. Comments....................................................................................................................51
3. Analysis .......................................................................................................................54
D. Restrictions on the Use of FM Translators to Rebroadcast the Signals of AM
Stations ..............................................................................................................................62
1. Background..................................................................................................................62
2. Comments....................................................................................................................64
3. Analysis .......................................................................................................................66

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III. THIRD ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION .........................................................................71
IV. PROCEDURAL MATTERS...................................................................................................73
V. ORDERING CLAUSES..........................................................................................................76
APPENDIX A - LPFM Spectrum Availability Studies (Thirty-minute Grid)
APPENDIX B - LPFM Spectrum Availability Studies (Twenty-minute Grid)
APPENDIX C - Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis
APPENDIX D - Final Rules

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
On July 12, 2011, the Commission released a Third Further Notice of Proposed
Rule Making (“Third Further Notice”)1 in this proceeding, seeking comment on the impact of the
enactment of the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 (“LCRA”)2 on the procedures previously
adopted to process the approximately 6,500 applications that remain pending from the 2003 FM
translator window. There, the Commission tentatively concluded that the previously adopted
translator licensing procedures, which would limit each applicant to ten pending applications,
would be inconsistent with the LCRA’s goals.3 It proposed to modify those procedures and
instead adopt a market-specific translator application dismissal process, dismissing pending
translator applications in identified spectrum-limited markets in order to preserve adequate low
power FM (“LPFM”) licensing opportunities. It also sought comment on whether, based on the
enactment of the LCRA, the Commission should modify its rules permitting only those translator
stations authorized on or prior to May 1, 2009, to rebroadcast the signals of AM stations.
2.
In this Fourth Report and Order, we adopt the market-specific translator
application processing and dismissal policies proposed in the Third Further Notice, incorporating
certain modifications proposed by commenters. These policies are designed to fully and
faithfully effectuate the licensing directives set forth at Section 5 of the LCRA while also taking
into account the constraints of limited spectrum and technical licensing requirements. We are
founding these procedures on our extensive spectrum availability studies set forth in Appendices
A and B, which establish that limited LPFM licensing opportunities remain in many markets.
We have determined, based on these studies, that the next LPFM window presents a critical, and
indeed possibly a last, opportunity to nurture and promote a community radio service that can
respond to unmet listener needs and underserved communities in many urban areas. As
explained herein, we find that it is necessary to dismiss significant numbers of translator
applications in spectrum limited markets to fulfill that opportunity. Nevertheless, these
procedures are also designed to facilitate to the maximum extent possible the grant of the
pending translator applications in all markets – whether spectrum is limited or abundant. In


1 Creation of a Low Power Radio Service and Amendment of Service and Eligibility Rules for FM Broadcast
Translator Stations
, Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 9986 (2011).
2 Pub. L. No. 111-371, 124 Stat. 4072 (2011).
3 The ten-application cap was adopted in Creation of a Low Power Radio Service, Third Report and Order and
Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 22 FCC Rcd 21912 (2007) (“Third Report and Order”).
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adopting these procedures, we note that neither the Commission nor any commenter has
identified a fundamentally different approach that would both satisfy Section 5’s mandate and
permit the rapid and efficient licensing of both LPFM and translator stations. With regard to the
6,500 applications that remain pending from the 2003 FM translator window, we also adopt a
national cap of 50 applications and a market-based cap of one application per applicant per
market for the 156 markets identified in Appendix A to minimize the potential for speculative
licensing conduct. Finally, we modify the May 1, 2009, date restriction to allow pending FM
translator applications that are granted to be used as cross-service translators.
3.
In the Third Order on Reconsideration, we also dismiss petitions for
reconsideration of the Third Report and Order as they relate to the now-abandoned ten-
application cap processing policy.

II.

DISCUSSION

A.

Section 5 of the LCRA: Broad Interpretive Principles

1.

Background

4.
The LCRA, signed into law by President Obama on January 4, 2011, expands
LPFM licensing opportunities by repealing the requirement that LPFM stations be certain
minimum distances from nearby stations operating on “third-adjacent” channels.4 Section 5 of
the LCRA also sets forth criteria that the Commission must take into account when licensing FM
translator, FM booster and LPFM stations:
SEC. 5. ENSURING AVAILABILITY OF SPECTRUM FOR LOW-
POWER FM STATIONS
Federal Communications Commission, when licensing new FM
translator stations, FM booster stations, and low-power FM stations,
shall ensure that –
(1) licenses are available to FM translator stations, FM
booster stations, and low-power FM stations;
(2) such decisions are made based on the needs of the local
community; and


4 See LCRA, Sec. 3(a) (“The Federal Communications Commission shall modify its rules to eliminate third-adjacent
minimum distance separation requirements between—(1) low-power FM stations; and (2) full-service FM stations,
FM translator stations, and FM booster stations.”). Because broadcast station signals are subject to interference
from other signals on the same or nearby frequencies within the same geographic area, the Commission’s
commercial FM and LPFM rules impose spacing requirements to protect prior filed applications and authorized
stations that operate on co-, first-, second-, or third-adjacent channels. See 47 C.F.R. §§ 73.207(b) and 83.807.
Although the Commission initially declined to impose third-adjacent channel spacing requirements on LPFM
stations, Congress mandated such requirements in 2000. See Creation of a Low Power Radio Service, Second
Report and Order, 16 FCC Rcd 8026 (2001). See also Fifth Report and Order, Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking and Third Order on Reconsideration, MM Docket No. 99-25, FCC 12-28 (rel. Mar. 19, 2012)
(implementing Section (3)(a) and other provisions of the LCRA).
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(3) FM translator stations, FM booster stations, and low-
power FM stations remain equal in status and
secondary to existing and modified FM stations.
5.
In the Third Further Notice, we proposed to interpret Section 5 to establish the
following broad principles:
§
Section 5(1) requires the Commission to adopt licensing procedures that ensure some
minimum number of licensing opportunities for both LPFM and translator services across
the nation;5
§
Read together with Section 5(2), Section 5(1) requires the Commission to provide
licensing opportunities for both services in as many local communities as possible;6 and
§
We tentatively concluded that our primary focus under Section 5(1) must be to ensure
that translator licensing procedures do not foreclose or unduly limit future LPFM
licensing, because the more flexible translator licensing standards will make it much
easier to license new translator stations in spectrum-limited markets than new LPFM
stations.7
6.
In addition, we sought comment on whether to consider existing stations in
making a “licenses are available” finding under Section 5(1), pointing out that because of the
large number of existing translators within the top 200 Arbitron-rated markets, “taking into
account existing translators … would militate in favor of the dismissal of [pending] translator
applications, at least in markets where there is little or no remaining spectrum for future LPFM
stations or where substantially fewer licensing opportunities remain.”8 We tentatively concluded
that the suspended national cap of ten translator applications per applicant in the Auction No. 83
pool of pending translator applications is inconsistent with the statutory mandate to ensure some
minimum number of LPFM licensing opportunities in as many local communities as possible.9
Instead, we proposed a market-specific process of dismissing all pending translator applications
in certain spectrum-limited markets in order to preserve a certain number of LPFM licensing
opportunities, while allowing processing of translator applications outside those markets.10


5 26 FCC Rcd at 9989. As explained in the Third Further Notice, we are not addressing FM booster stations in this
proceeding because licensing of FM booster stations has no impact on LPFM or FM translator licensing, and vice
versa. See Third Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 9989 note 17.
6 Id. at 9989.
7 Id. at 9992.
8 Id. at 9991.
9 Id. at 9990-91. See also id. at 9987 note 10 (explaining that the Media Bureau suspended the dismissal process to
give the Commission an opportunity to consider petitions for reconsideration of the national cap).
10 Id. at 9996-98. We also tentatively concluded that the LCRA does not limit our ability to address potential
licensing abuses by imposing appropriate per-market and/or national application caps for parties with pending
translator applications from Auction No. 83. Id. at 9999.
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2.

Comments

7.
Among all the parties submitting comments in response to the Third Further
Notice, there is broad support for eliminating the cap of ten translator applications11 and using
market-specific spectrum availability metrics to implement Section 5 requirements. However, on
the issue of interpreting Section 5, divergent arguments were presented by translator supporters,
on the one hand, and LPFM supporters, on the other. Their positions are summarized in the
following sections, addressing interpretive issues presented by Sections 5(1)-(3) of the LCRA.
We also note that Senators Cantwell and McCain and Representatives Doyle and Terry, the
original sponsors of the LCRA, submitted a letter12 expressing their support for our interpretation
of Section 5 of the LCRA and for our proposed approach to effectuating the statute.
a.

Section 5(1) – Ensuring that licenses are available

8.
LPFM advocates support our view that Section 5(1) of the LCRA requires the
Commission to ensure that the processing of translator applications does not preclude future
opportunities for new LPFM licenses.13 Prometheus cites to the Congressional history of the
LCRA and the Sponsors’ Letter to support this position.14 LPFM supporters contend that
Congress intended that the Commission take existing licenses into account when assessing
whether its licensing procedures would ensure that licenses are available rather than establish a
“going forward” only standard that ignores legacy licensing.15 LPFM advocates also argue that
Section 5(1) requires the Commission to preserve a significant number of licensing opportunities
for new LPFM stations in all markets where this is possible.16
9.
Translator supporters disagree with these positions. These commenters oppose an
interpretation of Section 5(1) that, in their view, would favor LPFM stations over translators and
urge the Commission not to devise licensing procedures to redress perceived imbalances in past
licensing.17 NPR argues that our proposal unduly favors future LPFM service at the expense of
the pending FM translator applicants by taking into account the number of existing LPFM and
translator stations.18 NPR also argues that “ensuring that licenses are available” includes current


11 Prometheus Radio Project (“Prometheus”) suggests we maintain the 10 application cap (with the proviso that
already-granted applications from Auction 83 count against the cap), along with additional safeguards to prevent
trafficking. Comments of Prometheus Radio, Future of Music Coalition, and the United Church of Christ, OC Inc.
(“Joint LPFM Advocates”) at 30.
12 Letter from Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Rep. Lee
Terry (R-NE) to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski (July 12, 2011) (“Sponsors’ Letter”).
13 Comments of Prometheus, REC Networks, and Common Frequency at 9.
14 Comments of Joint LPFM Advocates at 7-8.
15 Comments of Prometheus, REC Networks, and Common Frequency at 9.
16 Reply Comments of Connecticut Citizens for Independent Media at 2.
17 Comments of WFCR at 2; Comments of Catholic Radio Association (“CRA”) at 4.
18 Comments of National Public Radio (“NPR”) at 2, 8.
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and future FM translator station applicants.19 Similarly, EMF notes that the LCRA never
“directly” references applications from Auction No. 83, and emphasizes Congress’ use of “new”
at the beginning of Section 5 to argue that Section 5(1) “requires that ‘new’ licenses for both
translators and LPFM stations be made available.”20 NAB argues that a policy of dismissing
translator applications where translators but not LPFM stations could be located would counter
Section 5(1)’s mandate that licenses be available for translator stations.21
b.

Section 5(2) – Assessing the “needs of the local community”

10.
Commenters are divided also in interpreting Section 5(2) of the LCRA. LPFM
advocates suggest that Section 5(2) should be interpreted as a mandate favoring localism, and in
particular LPFM stations, which they argue provide the greatest localism benefit of any
broadcast service.22 Indeed, commenters note that the LPFM service was established in part to
address the perceived loss of local programming during a period of significant radio
consolidation.23 Some parties argue that translators, which do not originate programming, fail to
serve local community needs24 and are not truly local,25 while LPFM stations better serve the
goals of localism.26 LPFM proponents also suggest that, when making licensing decisions, the
Commission could address the needs of local communities by considering demographic data.
Specifically, they argue that urban communities, well served by commercial and noncommercial
services, have less need for translator services and more need for local community-level
programming, while rural communities, poorly served by full-service facilities, have need for
both translators and LPFM stations.27
11.
On the other hand, translator advocates argue that translators can serve the needs
of the local community and note that the Commission and Congress have found that to be the
case.28 For example, translators can provide emergency information,29 as well as regional and


19 Comments of NPR at 5.
20 Comments of Educational Media Foundation (“EMF”) at 8; see also Charles Keiler Comments at 4 and Northeast
Broadcasting Co. (“NEBCO”) at 3-4.
21 Comments of National Association of Broadcasters (“NAB”) at 17.
22 Comments of Joint LPFM Advocates at 13-15.
23 Comments of Cynthia Conti at 1; Comments of Joint LPFM Advocates at 22.
24 Comments of Western Oregon Radio Club at 2-4.
25 Comments of Joint LPFM Advocates at 20.
26 Comments of Joint LPFM Advocates at 13-14.
27 Comments of Common Frequency at 9. In addition to participating in the Comments of Joint LPFM Advocates,
Prometheus also submitted comments with REC Networks and Common Frequency proposing specific
modifications to the Commission’s proposed implementation of Section 5 of the LCRA. See Joint Proposal of
Prometheus Radio Project, REC Networks and Common Frequency on the Assessment of LPFM Availability
(“Joint Proposal”). Prometheus argues that the Joint Proposal would better serve the needs of urban populations.
Reply Comments of Prometheus at 4.
28 Comments of CRA at 4; Comments of Charles Keiler at 5; Comments of WFCR at 3; Comments of NEBCO at 3;
Reply Comments of EMF at 10.
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state news.30 Translators can also serve the local community by providing a format not currently
available in that area.31 Thus, they argue it is wrong to assume that LPFM stations better serve
local community needs than do translators.32 NPR criticizes our analysis of Section 5(2) on the
ground that we focused on the differences between translators and LPFM stations, rather than
focusing on how both services serve the needs of the local community by expanding the
programming choices available to listeners.33 NPR also argues that some communities might
actually have a greater need for a translator than for an LPFM station because a translator may be
filling a coverage gap for a significant full-power station.34 Common Frequency replies that
urban communities served by multiple translators have more need for a first LPFM station.35
c.

Section 5(3) – “Equal in status”

12.
The Third Further Notice noted that Section 5(3) refers specifically to “stations”
rather than to “applications,” suggesting that it could be applied only to existing stations and that
future LPFM applications could have priority over pending FM translator applications.36
However, the Third Further Notice also recognized that the Commission had used the terms
“stations” and “applications” interchangeably in discussing the “co-equal status” of LPFM
stations and FM translator stations and that the Commission had framed this issue in terms of
whether to follow or waive the current “cut-off” rules which protect prior-filed Auction No. 83
translator applications from subsequently-filed LPFM station applications.37 The Third Further
Notice
stated that it seems reasonable to assume that Congress intended the same meaning when
it used the word “station” in the LCRA.38
13.
Translator proponents argue that, for regulatory purposes, the terms “stations” and
“applications” are interchangeable.39
Translator proponents argue that either changing the
Commission’s market-based approach40 or waiving the cut-off rules in favor of future-filed
LPFM applications would not be consistent with Section 5(3).41 Mullaney Engineering argues
(Continued from previous page)


29 Comments of NAB at 7.
30 Comments of WFCR at 3.
31 Comments of EMF at 9.
32 Comments of NAB at 6-7.
33 Comments of NPR at 9-10.
34 Comments of NPR at 10.
35 Reply Comments of Common Frequency at 10-11.
36 Third Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 9994.
37 Id.
38 Id.
39 Comments of Edgewater Broadcasting, Inc., & Radio Ministry (“Ministries”) at 2; NPR Comments at 8; WFCR
Comments at 4.
40 Reply Comments of NAB at 2
41 Comments of NEBCO at 5.
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that the services are not “equal in status” if LPFM applicants are allowed to invalidate the cut-off
protection rights of previously-filed translator applications.42
NPR likewise believes that
waiving cut-off rules to give preference to later-filed LPFM applications would violate the
“equal in status” mandate.43 Other translator supporters express concern that this approach
would disproportionately favor the licensing of future LPFM stations and thereby violate Section
5(3)’s equal in status mandate.44 They claim that trying to make LPFM and translators equal in
numbers would suppress translator licensing and artificially encourage unwanted LPFMs.45
14.
LPFM supporters disagree, arguing that, while the grant of a station license
conveys certain vested and statutorily protected interests to a licensee, those interests do not
attach to a pending application.46 Prometheus argues that Section 5(3) does not refer to the cut-
off rule, but instead merely requires that translators and LPFM stations be secondary to full-
service stations and equal to each other.47 Prometheus further asserts that Section 5(3) does not
prohibit the Commission from giving LPFM applicants priority over translator applicants,
particularly when read in the context of Section 5(2)’s requirement that licensing serve the needs
of local communities and Section 307(b)’s requirement that the Commission distribute radio
service in the public interest.48 Prometheus states that the Commission should balance the two
services by aiding in the development of LPFM.49
15.
Other LPFM advocates argue that the cut-off protection rule is a regulatory
custom that the Commission can waive if it serves the public interest.50 Some commenters argue
for giving LPFM stations priority because translators consume valuable radio spectrum while
failing to provide original local programming.51
LPFM advocates also argue that the
Commission must compensate for the “head start” that the translator service has to the
comparatively new LPFM service.52 Commenters further argue that the current rules favor
translators.53 Some suggest that, in order to achieve a true equality between the LPFM service
and translators, the technical rules governing the LPFM service should be changed to match


42 Comments of Mullaney Engineering, Inc. at 3.
43 Comments of NPR at 8; Reply Comments of NPR at 6.
44 Comments of NPR at 8, Comments of EMF at 10.
45 Comments of Ministries at 5.
46 See Reply Comments of Don Schellhardt at 2. Prometheus likewise believes that parties do not acquire any rights
by virtue of filing an application. Comments of Joint LPFM Advocates at 26.
47 Comments of Joint LPFM Advocates at 24-25.
48 Comments of Joint LPFM Advocates at 27.
49 Comments of Joint LPFM Advocates at 27.
50 Reply Comments of Don Schellhardt at 2.
51 Comments of Western Oregon Radio Club at 5.
52 Comments of Media Alliance at 1.
53 Comments of REC Networks at 2-4, Comments of Ministries at 4; Comments of Common Frequency at 6.
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those of translators.54 Common Frequency contends that Section 5(3) calls for a goal of equal
spectrum
for each service.55
3.

Analysis

16.
We adopt the interpretations of the three Section 5 licensing standards proposed in
the Third Further Notice. In its broadest terms, Section 5(1) clearly requires the Commission to
ensure that some minimum number of FM translator and LPFM “licenses are available”
throughout the nation when licensing new FM translator and LPFM stations. We also find that
Section 5 is most reasonably interpreted to require consideration of existing licenses. As we
observed in the Third Further Notice, the word “new” appears in the first clause of Section 5 but
not in subparagraph 1, suggesting that we should consider the availability of both new and
existing stations in ensuring that “licenses are available” for both services. In addition, our
interpretation is consistent with the title of Section 5, “Ensuring Availability of Spectrum for
Low-Power FM Stations,” as well as the Commission’s longstanding license allocation policies
under Section 307(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (“Act”),56 which directs
the Commission to ensure “a fair, efficient, and equitable distribution of radio service” “among
the several States and communities.” In contrast, interpreting Section 5 to require us to license
new translator and LPFM stations without regard to the number of operating stations in each
service, as EMF advocates, would be inconsistent with ensuring the availability of spectrum for
both services, as well as Section 307(b)’s direction. We also find support for our interpretation
in the comments of LPFM advocates discussed above.57 Accordingly, we conclude that the
mandate of Section 5(1) to ensure that “licenses are available” is reasonably interpreted to
require consideration of both existing and future licenses in the translator and LPFM services
when licensing new stations in those services.
17.
We reject arguments that interpreting Section 5(1) to require consideration of
existing licenses is unreasonable because such an interpretation would “favor” LPFM licensing.58
The LCRA necessarily requires the Commission to make choices between licensing new LPFM
and translator stations in some cases, given that the two services compete for the same limited
spectrum. Making such choices based on the overall spectrum available to each service does not
“favor” one service over the other. On the contrary, the fact that our interpretation of Section
5(1) enables us to account for the present disparities between the two services in terms of the
number of licensed stations supports its reasonableness.59 We also reject EMF’s argument that
the LCRA “says nothing” about the processing of the applications which remain pending from
the 2003 translator window because it does not expressly address them.60 These applications are


54 Comments of Charles Keiler at 5; Comments of WFCR at 4; Comments of REC Networks at 4.
55 Comments of Common Frequency at 8.
56 47 U.S.C. § 307(b).
57 See supra, ¶ 8.
58 Comments of WFC at 2; Comments of CRA at 4; Comments of NPR at 2, 8.
59 See Third Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at ¶ 12.
60 Comments of EMF at 8.
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unquestionably subject to Section 5 requirements which apply “when licensing new FM
translator stations . . . .” Rather, we agree with NPR that the language of Section 5(1)
encompasses pending as well as future applications.
18.
We also adopt our proposed interpretation of Sections 5(1) and (2) together to
require that LPFM and translator licenses be available in as many “local communit[ies]” as
possible, according to their needs.61 We recognize that translators and LPFM stations both serve
the needs of communities, albeit in different ways, and conclude that we must take these factors
into consideration in implementing Section 5(2). In particular, translators, which are inexpensive
to construct and operate, can effectively bring service to rural and under-served areas. LPFM
stations, on the other hand, which typically utilize volunteer staffs, operate under great budget
constraints, and serve smaller geographic areas, may be less effective in meeting the needs of
small communities and areas of low population density.62
Translators also are essential
components of local and regional transmission systems that efficiently deliver valued
programming to listeners. Nevertheless, as we explained in the Third Further Notice, the
Commission has historically accorded no weight to translators in assessing the comparative
needs of a community for radio service under its Section 307(b) licensing policies.63 In contrast,
the LPFM service was created “to foster a program service responsive to the needs and interests
of small community groups, particularly specialized community needs that have not been well
served by commercial broadcast stations.”64 Numerous LPFM service and comparative licensing
criteria are designed to promote these goals. These criteria include a requirement that licensees
be local, a licensing preference for those applicants with an established community presence, and
a licensing preference for those applicants that pledge to locally originate at least eight hours of
programming per day. In addition, ownership restrictions and time-share rules necessarily result
in expanded ownership diversity.65 Based on these factors, we find that LPFM stations are
uniquely positioned to meet local needs, particularly in areas of higher population density where
LPFM service is practical and sustainable.66
19.
We also adopt our tentative conclusion that our primary focus under Section 5
must be to ensure that translator licensing procedures do not foreclose or unduly limit future
LPFM licensing, because the more flexible translator licensing standards will make it much


61 LCRA Sec. 5. See Third Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 9989.
62 See Economic Impact of Low-Power FM Stations on Commercial FM Radio: Report to Congress Pursuant to
Section 8 of the Local Community Radio Act of 2010
, Report, MB Docket No. 11-83, DA 12-2, ¶ 7 (MB 2012); see
also
47 C.F.R. §§ 74.1235(b)(1) (permitting power/height combinations for non-fill-in translators located east of the
Mississippi River or Zone I-A sufficient to extend station’s 60 dBu contour up to 7.3 kilometers from transmitter
site) and (b)(2) (permitting power/height combinations for non-fill-in FM translators located in other areas to extend
station’s 60 dBu contour up to 13.3 kilometers from transmitter site).
63 See Third Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 9993.
64 See First Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 2213.
65 See Third Report and Order, 15 FCC Rcd at 9993.
66 See also infra, ¶ 39.
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easier to license new translator stations in spectrum-limited markets than new LPFM stations.67
Our market-specific analyses, which are set forth in Appendices A and B, establish that few
LPFM licenses have been issued and limited LPFM licensing opportunities remain in many
markets due to the relatively inflexible LPFM technical rules and high spectrum utilization. In
contrast, given the more flexible translator licensing standards and the limited LPFM licensing
opportunities in many markets, the next round of LPFM licensing will have only a modest
impact on licensing opportunities for future translator stations. Thus, our principal challenge in
effectuating the mandates of Sections 5(1) and 5(2) is to identify and preserve LPFM licensing
opportunities where few or no LPFM stations currently operate. We note that this goal is fully
consistent with Congress’s decisions to eliminate third adjacent channel distance separation
requirements and to permit second adjacent channel spacing waivers, and thereby, expand the
LFPM service.68
20.
Our interpretation of Section 5 has clear implications for the translator processing
and dismissal procedures we adopt in this proceeding. These procedures must be responsive to
two different situations. The first concerns markets where, taking into account both licensed
stations and the potential for additional stations, ample LPFM licensing opportunities are present.
Procedures in these markets must balance translator and LPFM licensing in a manner that
“ensures” a level of future LPFM licensing that the Commission determines is sufficient to
satisfy statutory requirements. Secondly, in markets where insufficient spectrum remains to
satisfy these requirements, the translator processing and dismissal procedures, including
amendment and settlement procedures, should preserve all identified LPFM licensing
opportunities, i.e., should facilitate the grant of only those translator applications that would not
diminish or “block” future LPFM licensing in these markets.
21.
On the other hand, we agree with NAB that, consistent with our statutory
interpretation, our policies should seek to avoid the dismissal of translator applications where
LPFM stations “cannot” be licensed.69 We note that, however, that capacity to identify such
situations is limited. The FM database is dynamic, with LPFM filing opportunities being
created, eliminated or modified daily due to FM application and allotment filings. Moreover,
revised LPFM technical licensing rules that are now under consideration will materially affect
licensing opportunities. Given the limited LPFM licensing opportunities in many markets, the
modest impact that LPFM licensing will have on future translator licensing in those markets and
the difficulties in establishing with certainty that a translator application “cannot“ preclude an
LPFM filing, we conclude that adoption of a conservative processing regime that fully protects
scarce spectrum for future LPFM stations would be consistent with Section 5, read as a whole.
22.
We adopt our tentative conclusion that the nationwide ten translator application-
cap dismissal policy we established prior to the LCRA’s enactment is inconsistent with Section 5
because it would not provide a certain and effective way to ensure that LPFM “licenses are


67 Id. at 9992.
68 See LCRA, Sec. 3(a) (eliminating LPFM third adjacent channel distance separation requirements) and 3(b)(2)
(authorizing the Commission to waive second adjacent chancel distance separation requirements).
69 Comments of NAB at 16.
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available” for local communities in many markets.70 Under that policy, translator applications
that prevent or “block” LPFM licensing opportunities would likely be eligible for processing in
markets where the need for LPFM licensing opportunities is greatest and spectrum most limited.
Based on the market-specific analyses set forth in Appendices A and B, we also conclude that no
or limited useful spectrum for LPFM stations is likely to remain in numerous specific radio
markets where typically few or no LPFM stations now operate unless translator dismissal
procedures reliably result in the dismissal of all “blocking” translator applications.
23.
With regard to Section 5(3), we asked in the Third Further Notice whether the
requirement that translator and LPFM stations remain “equal in status” prohibits waivers of the
LPFM cut-off rule, which prioritizes pending FM translator applications over later-filed LPFM
applications,71 explaining that such an interpretation would require the Commission to dismiss
any pending FM translator applications that it determines must make way for LPFM licensing
opportunities, rather than deferring action on such applications and later processing any that
remain pending after the completion of dismissal and settlement procedures adopted to
implement Section 5.72 We identified several factors that support such an interpretation. The
cut-off rules are a principal characteristic of the two services, establishing their “equal” status as
to each other. While acknowledging that Section 5(3) refers to “stations,’” we noted in the Third
Further Notice
that the Commission has used “stations” and “applications” interchangeably in
considering whether to give priority to applications filed in the upcoming LPFM window, a
central issue in this proceeding since 2005. Thus, we explained, Section 5(3) could be
reasonably interpreted to prohibit waivers of the LPFM cut-off rule.
24.
Prometheus disagrees with this reasoning, pointing out that the “plain language”
of Section 5(3) does not refer to the Commission’s cut-off rules.73 It contends that Section 5(3)
merely “authorizes the existing arrangements between licensed LPFM and translator stations as
they relate to full-service stations.74 Both can be displaced by primary stations but neither can
displace the other; and in this sense these stations should remain equal.”75 Prometheus concludes
that Section 5(3) is not a bar to giving priority to LPFM applications filed in the upcoming
window.76 Based on this interpretation, Prometheus advocates a processing policy under which
action on certain translator applications would be deferred.77 Those applications that remain
pending would be subject to dismissal if a conflicting LPFM application is filed. Prometheus,


70 See Third Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 9990-91.
71 See 47 C.F.R. § 73.807(d) (requiring LPFM applications to meet minimum distance separation requirements with
respect to “authorized FM translator stations, cutoff FM translator applications, and FM translator applications filed
prior to the release of the Public Notice announcing the LPFM window”).
72 Third Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 9994.
73 Comments of Joint LPFM Advocates at 24-25
74 Id. at 24-25.
75 Id. at 24-25.
76 Id. at 27.
77 Id. at 29.
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however, also recognizes that the translator dismissal procedures proposed in the Third Further
Notice
would be permissible under Prometheus’s differing Section 5(3) interpretation.78
25.
We are not persuaded that Prometheus’s narrow interpretation of Section 5(3) is
reasonable. For the reasons discussed above, we believe that the equality mandated by Section
5(3) for FM translator stations vis-à-vis LPFM stations is most reasonably interpreted to
encompass applications as well as authorized stations in order to be meaningful.79 That view is
consistent with the Commission’s treatment of the issue of the relative status of LPFM and
translator stations prior to the LCRA’s enactment, and nothing in the legislative history supports
a contrary interpretation. Our interpretation also is consistent with the fact that the Section 5
mandates apply “when licensing new FM translator stations, FM booster stations and low-power
FM stations.” That is, Section 5 as a whole concerns the processing of applications. Thus, we
believe that Prometheus’s interpretation is inconsistent with Section 5(3) when it is considered in
the context of Section 5 as a whole.
26.
Although we find that the “equal in status” requirement of Section 5(3) is most
reasonably interpreted to bar LPFM cut-off rule waivers, we need not resolve this issue.
Assuming arguendo that we could give priority to LPFM applications filed in the upcoming
window over pending translator applications, we nevertheless conclude that the processing
regime we adopt herein more rapidly and efficiently effectuates the LCRA’s goals than would
Prometheus’s alternate approach. Most importantly, it avoids the translator licensing delays that
would result from a deferral approach. Under such an approach, all translator application
processing would remain frozen until all LPFM applications are on file and have been analyzed.
Only at that point could the Commission attempt to process “non-conflicting” translator and
LPFM applications simultaneously. In addition to these delays, translator grants under
Prometheus’s approach would have to be conditioned on subsequent LPFM licensing decisions,
with the risk of displacement potentially discouraging or delaying construction efforts.
Alternatively, the Commission could delay translator application processing until initial licensing
actions from the LPFM window are substantially completed, a process that would likely take a
number of years. In contrast, as set forth in detail below, our tailored market-specific processing
scheme is likely to allow the rapid licensing of at least one 1000 additional translator stations.
Thus, we agree with the sponsors of the LCRA that the approach we adopt herein “takes into
account the needs of translator applicants” as well as potential LPFM applicants.80
27.
We also conclude that the approach Prometheus advocates would be
administratively burdensome and resource intensive. Prometheus’s approach would require the
Commission to identify with certainty the potential preclusive impact of pending LPFM window
filings in order to determine which deferred FM translator applications may be acted on, yet the
potential for LPFM application amendments and settlements would make it difficult to identify
with certainty the breadth of the potential preclusive impact of pending LPFM window filings.
Moreover, Prometheus’s approach could lead to inequitable treatment of FM translator


78 Id. at 27.
79 See supra, ¶ 23.
80 Sponsor’s Letter at 1-2.
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applications filed in the same window, with the opportunity for technical amendments resulting
in certain translator applications that are deemed ready for processing before others receiving
preferential access to limited spectrum.81 Thus, we conclude for policy reasons that the problems
associated with deferring action on pending FM translator applications that otherwise would be
subject to dismissal under the policies we adopt herein substantially outweigh any benefits.

B.

Implementing Section 5 of the LCRA: Proposed Market-Based Processing
Policy

1.

Background

28.
Having tentatively concluded that the ten-application cap dismissal policy would
run contrary to the LCRA’s mandate, the Commission considered three alternative processing
regimes and tentatively concluded that a market-specific, spectrum availability-based translator
application dismissal policy would most faithfully implement Section 5 of the LCRA.82 To
determine LPFM opportunities in major markets, the Bureau undertook a nationwide LPFM
spectrum availability analysis.83 The Bureau studied all top 150 radio markets, as defined by
Arbitron, and smaller markets where more than four translator applications are pending. It
centered a thirty-minute latitude by thirty-minute longitude grid over the center-city coordinates
of each studied market. Each grid consisted of 961 points – 31 points running east/west by 31
points running north/south. The Bureau analyzed each of the 100 FM channels (88.1 mHz –
107.9 mHz) at each grid point to determine whether any channels remained available for future
LPFM stations at that location. Only channels that fully satisfied co-, first- and second adjacent
channel LPFM spacing requirements to all authorizations and applications, including pending
translator applications, were treated as available. The area encompassed by the grid was
designed to approximate “core” market locations that could serve significant populations. The
results of that analysis were presented in the Third Further Notice, and identified the number of
channels (“LPFM Channels”) currently available for LPFM use in each studied market.84 In
calculating “available” LPFM channels, it included both the identified vacant channels and those
channels currently licensed to LPFM stations which are authorized to operate at locations within
each market’s thirty-minute latitude by thirty-minute longitude grid.85
29.
The Commission proposed to dismiss all pending applications for new FM
translators in any market in which the number of available LPFM Channels was below a
specified LPFM channel floor (a “dismiss all” market), and to process all pending applications
for new translators in markets in which the number of available LPFM channels met or exceeded


81 This problem could be particularly acute in the case of a “non-conflicting” translator application that is part of a
larger group of mutually exclusive applications that includes applications in conflict with LFPM filings.
82 Third Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 9995-96.
83 Id. at 9990. See also id. at Appendix A.
84 Third Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 9996. We have since updated this study and have attached the results at
Appendix A.
85 Id. at 9997.
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the applicable LPFM channel floor (a “process all” market).86 In proposing the channel floors,
the Commission was guided by the number of top 150-market NCE FM full power stations,
noting that this service was most comparable to the LPFM service.87
·
Markets 1 – 20:
8 LPFM Channels
·
Markets 21 – 50:
7 LPFM Channels
·
Markets 51 – 100:
6 LPFM Channels
·
Markets 101 – 150 and, in addition,
smaller markets where more than
4 translator applications are pending:
5 LPFM Channels

30.
The Commission sought comment on the methodology of its study, and whether a
market-tier approach was a reasonable means for effectuating both Section 5(1) and 5(2)
directives.88 It also sought comment on whether use of Arbitron market-based assessments as
used therein was reasonable for purposes of implementing Section 5 of the LCRA, and
tentatively concluded that a market-based analysis would provide a reasonable “global”
assessment of LPFM spectrum availability in particular areas.89 It sought comment on whether
defining the Section 5(2) term “local community” in terms of markets was reasonable and
whether it was appropriate to use the same definition for LPFM and translator purposes.90
31.
The Commission also sought comment on whether it should impose restrictions
on the translator settlement process in the “process all” markets to ensure that engineering
solutions to resolve application conflicts would not reduce the number of channels available for
LPFM stations in these markets.91 Finally, in order to preserve the status quo during the
pendency of this proceeding, it proposed to suspend the processing of any translator modification
application that proposes a transmitter site for the first time within any market that has fewer
LPFM channels available than the proposed channel floor.92 It also imposed an immediate freeze
on the filing of translator “move-in” modification applications and directed the Bureau to dismiss
any such application filed after the adoption of the Third Further Notice.93 It noted that the
freeze would continue until the close of the upcoming LPFM filing window, but would not apply


86 Id.
87 Id. at 9996.
88 Id.
89 Id. at 9998.
90 Id.
91 Id. at 9997. See 47 C.F.R. 73.5002 (c) and (d).
92 Third Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 9998. An application proposing to relocate a transmitter closer to a larger
market is commonly referred to as a “move in” modification application.
93 Id.
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to any translator modification application which proposes to move its transmitter site from one
location to another within the same spectrum-limited market.94 It sought comment on these
proposals.
2.

Comments

32.
With a few exceptions,95 most commenters generally agreed that some form of the
Commission’s market-based approach was an acceptable methodology to carry out the mandate
of Section 5.96 However, many commenters suggested modifications to the proposal. Some
commenters suggest changes that would potentially foster more opportunities for LPFM stations
(which could result in the dismissal of more pending FM translator applications), while others
favor processing more translator applications from the 2003 window (which also could result in
fewer LPFM opportunities). We discuss them in turn below.
a.

Defining the Market and Channel Floors

33.
Prometheus and other LPFM proponents suggest that the Commission analyze the
top markets using a smaller grid (21x21), arguing that the 31x31 grid studies an area “far too
large to adequately evaluate spectrum availability in most urban areas.”97 Prometheus and REC
each note that many available LPFM opportunities are located in sparsely populated (or


94 Id. at 9998-99.
95 Some commenters still support the notion of a cap. See, e.g., Comments of NPR at 5 (supporting an application
cap); Comments of WUSB at 5 (same); Comments of CSN International (“CSN”) at 3-4 (same). Others suggest
alternatives that would either run contrary to the LCRA and our Rules, or would be administratively unfeasible or
impractical. For example, Charles Keiler suggests that we run the market study allowing LPFMs to use contour
protection methodology. See Comments of Charles Keiler at 7. We find that a contour overlap interference
protection approach is statutorily barred by Section 3(b)(1) of the LCRA, which prohibits the Commission from
modifying the current co-channel and first- and second-adjacent channel distance separation requirements. LCRA, §
3(b)(1). Hope Christian Church of Marleton, Inc., suggests that we open a translator settlement window before
assessing LPFM availability, while NAB suggests that suggests that the Commission should refresh the record of
pending translator applications before moving forward with any processing policy. See Comments of Hope
Christian Church of Marleton, Inc. at 4, Comments of NAB at 23. We find that these approaches would
unreasonably delay our efforts to expeditiously open an LPFM filing window. Furthermore, the processing policies
adopted in this item will provide opportunities for many translator applicants that would have previously been
dismissed in specific markets under the originally proposed process, to pursue those applications, as originally filed
or as amended, and settlement opportunities that do not preclude the use of LPFM channel/locations within the grid
for that market.
96 Some comments addressed issues outside the scope of this proceeding and, therefore, we decline to address them
here. See, e.g., Reply Comments of REC Networks at 8-17 (requesting a petition for rulemaking to amend various
LPFM rules); Comments of Communications Technologies, Inc. at 3-4 (arguing that LPFMs should be allowed to
use Channels 5 and 6); Comments of REC Networks at 17 (suggesting that the Commission set translator ownership
limits); Comments of Jerry Isenhart at 2 (suggesting that translators be allowed to operate as LPFMs, and vice
versa); Comments of National Translator Association at 3 (same). Some commenters make a case for the LP-10
service. See Comments of Kyle Magrill at 3-4 (voicing support for LP-10 service). The viability of the LP-10
service and certain proposed LPFM rule changes will be addressed in a companion Fourth Further Notice being
released today.
97 Joint Proposal at 3.
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unpopulated) areas on the fringe of the 31x31 grid.98 LPFM advocates likewise urge the
Commission to separately evaluate named cities in hyphenated Arbitron markets,99 to set higher
channel floors,100 to count only channels (and not locations) as counting toward a channel
floor,101 and to only count new licensing opportunities when assessing LPFM channel
availability.102
34.
Translator advocates largely disagree with these suggestions. NPR and NAB
assert that a 21x21 grid “provides a skewed analysis of market conditions”103 and would violate
the LCRA mandate that the two services remain equal in status because it would result in the
dismissal of more translator applications.104 Indeed, they maintain that even the Commission’s
proposed 31x31 grid is too small, 105 and argue that use of Arbitron market boundaries would
provide a more accurate measure of current LPFM and FM translator station locations and
potential LPFM licensing opportunities. EMF and other translator proponents likewise disagree
with Prometheus’s view that only channels should apply to the channel floors, maintaining that
potential “locations” for LPFM stations should also count.106 By looking solely at channels,
EMF maintains that the Commission is understating the number of potential LPFM stations that
could actually be constructed in the market.107 It argues that if LPFM is truly a localized service
to small populations, channel re-use within a market is “to be expected.”108


98 Id. at 4 (asserting that 75 percent of the available LPFM channels are located within the 31x31 grids but not
within the 21x21 grids); Comments of REC Networks at 7-8 (noting that “70 study areas have 25% or less of the
population in the study area living in the outer zone,” while ten of these markets “have 10% or less of the population
within the outer zone,” and identifying 171 channels at study points where there is no population, representing
nearly 12 percent of all potentially available LPFM channels).
99 See Reply Comments of REC Networks at 2.
100 Joint Proposal at 8. REC advocates for an increase in channel floors to compensate for flaws it identified in the
Commission’s methodology, arguing that the Commission’s study did not properly exclude search points that were
in Mexico, did not account for vacant Mexican allotments, or areas that had no population. See e.g., Comments of
REC Networks at 6, 8.
101 See Reply Comments of Common Frequency at 9-10. Multiple stations may be able to share a particular channel
within a market if they are located far enough apart to satisfy the LPFM spacing requirements of Section 73.807 of
the Rules. See 47 C.F.R. § 73.807.
102 Joint Proposal at 10.
103 Reply Comments of NPR at 7.
104 Reply Comments of NAB at 8.
105 Comments of NAB at 10-15.
106 See Comments of EMF at 7; Comments of NAB at 17-19; Reply Comments of NPR at 9; Comments of Radio
Power Inc. at 2.
107 Comments of EMF at 7.
108 Comments of EMF at 7.
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b.

Translator Amendment and Settlement Procedures

35.
In “Dismiss All” Markets.
NAB and others assert that we should process
translator applications where an application grant would not obstruct a particular LPFM
opportunity109 or where a dismissal would not create an additional LPFM opportunity.110 LPFM
advocates oppose these suggestions. With respect to the former, they argue that this proposal in
practice would likely result in the loss of significant LPFM licensing opportunities.111 With
respect to the latter, they argue that the second-adjacent waiver process will create many LPFM
opportunities in markets that otherwise appear to have no available LPFM channels (such as
New York and Chicago).112 Common Frequency further urges the Commission to take into
account LP-10 availability and the potential for intermediate frequency (“I.F.”) and second
adjacent channel waivers in determining whether a particular translator application could
preclude an LPFM licensing opportunity.113
36.
In “Process All” Markets. NPR and others argue that the Commission should not
restrict the ability of pending translator applicants to make minor amendments to their
applications, arguing that circumstances may have changed considerably since their applications
were filed in 2003.114 NAB argues that the Commission should allow applicants to choose other
channels as part of the settlement process, so long as the availability of LPFM opportunities is
not reduced below the LPFM channel floor for that market.115 It does not, however, propose
procedures to select among competing translator applicants while also safeguarding the pertinent
LPFM channel floor. It notes that in many “process all” markets, the number of available LPFM
channels far exceeds the channel floor.116


109 See Comments of Sacred Heart University at 1 (stating that dismissal of their translator applications in Danbury
is unnecessary because their grant will not preclude any LPFM opportunities); Comments of CSN at Exhibit A
(submitting engineering exhibits which purportedly demonstrate that its pending translator applications do not
obstruct identified LPFM opportunities in various spectrum-limited Arbitron markets); Comments of WFCR,
Amherst, MA at 7 (noting that many translator applications now proposed for automatic dismissal might not
interfere with identified LPFM slots); Reply Comments of NPR at 5 (Commission should not dismiss pending
translator applications that, if granted, would not obstruct future LPFM opportunities).
110 Comments of NAB at 16; Comments of CSN (“it would constitute an unfair hardship on CSN to dismiss [its
Chicago applications] … when no tangible LPFM public service interest exists”); Comments of NEBCO at 2 (notes
that dismissal of translator applications won’t create any new LPFM opportunities in Boston); Comments of William
C. Doerner at 1 (should process translators if their dismissal would not create additional LPFM opportunities).
111 Reply Comments of Prometheus at 9.
112 Reply Comments of REC Networks at 5; Reply Comments of Common Frequency at 8.
113 See Letter from Common Frequency (filed Dec. 27, 2011).
114 Comments of NPR at 9; Comments of Edgewater Broadcasting & Radio Assist Ministry at 12.
115 Comments of NAB at 20.
116 Comments of NAB at 20-21 (citing various markets where available LPFM opportunities exceed the channel
floor by wide margin). See also Comments of EMF at 11 (given the likelihood of changed circumstances since the
2003 filing window, translator applicants must be given some degree of flexibility to change transmitter sites) and
(continued….)
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37.
LPFM advocates disagree, arguing that the “availability of settlements negates the
FCC’s systemic approach to defining clear channel floors.”117 Common Frequency maintains
that the availability of settlements “provides for an open-ended scenario where translator
applicants could effectively cherry-pick the best channels, leaving the channels at the edges of
the grid-area for LPFM applicants.”118
3.

Analysis - Revised Translator Application Processing and Dismissal
Policies

38.
Despite the divergence of views about interpreting the LCRA, there is relatively
broad agreement with respect to our proposal to effectuate Section 5 with market-specific
spectrum availability metrics. Significantly, no commenter provided a comprehensive statutory
interpretation pointing to a fundamentally different approach. Accordingly, we adopt, with
certain modifications, the market-specific processing approach outlined in the Third Further
Notice.
As discussed above, our principal challenge in effectuating Section 5(1) of the LCRA is
to identify and preserve those LPFM licensing opportunities where few or no LPFM stations
currently operate.119 The processing approach we adopt today furthers this goal by ensuring that
LPFM licensing opportunities in spectrum-limited markets remain “available.” At the same
time, we adopt translator application and amendment procedures that will permit the immediate
licensing of certain pending translator applications in both “dismiss all” and “process all”
markets, consistent with Section 5(1) and 5(2) directives and the procedures set forth below.120
To conform our terminology to the revised processing standards, we will use the names
“spectrum limited” and “spectrum available” markets to refer to what were previously
characterized as “dismiss all” and “process all” markets, respectively.
39.
We believe certain modifications are necessary to better ensure that our licensing
decisions are based on community needs, as required by Section 5 of the LCRA. As we noted in
the Third Further Notice and as discussed above, LPFM stations are best suited to serve more
densely populated markets.121 We have reviewed our grid studies and have determined that in
some smaller “spectrum available” markets, many of the channels identified as available for
LPFM are on the fringe of the 31x31 grid in unpopulated or very lightly populated areas.122
(Continued from previous page)


12 (channel amendments should be permitted if the translator applicant can demonstrate that move to alternative
channel will have no impact on LPFM availability).
117 Reply Comments of Common Frequency at 10.
118 Reply Comments of Common Frequency at 10.
119 See supra, ¶ 19.
120 See supra, ¶ 20.
121 Third Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 9996. See also ¶ 18, supra (noting that, standing alone, LPFM stations
have constraints that make it difficult for them to meet the needs of communities with low population densities).
122 See Joint Proposal at 5 (noting that in the Flagstaff market, 100 percent of the population in the 31x31 grid is
within the smaller 21x21 grid). See also Comments of Common Frequency at Appendix (showing that the “core”
area of the Commission’s 31x31 grid - 38 percent of the area – encompasses 99 percent of the area’s population in
the Sacramento market).
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Indeed, in some cases, the population of the 21x21 grid represents more than 90 percent of the
population of the 31x31 grid. We believe that LPFM stations can best serve the needs of local
communities in areas with significant populations where LPFM service is practical and
sustainable. Accordingly, we find that adoption of a smaller grid is appropriate in certain
markets to compensate for low population levels on the outer fringes of the grid. We believe that
use of a smaller grid in these markets will more faithfully implement Section 5(2) of the LCRA
than our original proposal because it identifies and preserves LPFM opportunities in core city
areas, where the LPFM service can best serve community needs. We likewise find that this
revised approach is more faithful to our interpretation of Sections 5(1) and 5(2) of the LCRA.
As set forth above, these sections, when read together, require us to ensure a certain level of
future LPFM licensing in “spectrum available” markets. However, we believe that licensing
opportunities identified as “available” in these smaller markets should be limited to those
locations that are likely to be able to support viable LPFM stations. Our adoption of a 21x21
grid in certain markets will enable us to more accurately identify such opportunities.123
40.
Different considerations apply to the largest markets. Our analysis establishes
that there are few or no LPFM licensing opportunities within the core areas of most of the top 50
markets, especially when compared to the number of licensed translator stations and the number
of pending translator applications in these markets. Using the methodology set forth in
paragraph 41 below, we have determined that only seven of the top 50 markets which are
classified as “spectrum limited” exhibit the high population concentrations within the grid that
occur in a number of smaller markets. That is, based on both raw population numbers and
population distributions, the largest markets are more likely to include population centers outside
core market locations that LPFM stations could serve. Thus, we find that our translator
processing procedures must not preclude LPFM licensing opportunities beyond the studied
31x31 grids in the top 50 spectrum limited markets.
41.
We have modified the LPFM spectrum availability study set forth in the Third
Further Notice as follows.124 As before, we identified the number of available LPFM channels
and licensed stations within the 31x31 grid and compared this number to each market’s channel
floor. These results are set forth in Appendix A. We then analyzed “spectrum available”
markets to identify those where 75 percent or more of the total population in the 31x31 grid is


123 Accordingly, we reject NAB’s suggestion to use Arbitron market boundaries as a measure of assessing LPFM
availability. Arbitron ratings are used to measure full-service station market activities. Full-service stations cover
much larger service areas than LPFM stations. Thus, Arbitron market boundaries would not be an appropriate
metric here. As noted by Prometheus, the goal of the Commission is to implement the LCRA, which was primarily
concerned with a lack of LPFM stations in the most spectrum-congested areas of the country. See Reply Comments
of Prometheus at 5. See also para. 18, supra (“Thus, our principal challenge in effectuating Section 5(1) is to
identify and preserve those LPFM licensing opportunities where few or no LPFM stations currently operate.”).
Using Arbitron markets as a metric would shift the focus away from the few remaining LPFM opportunities in these
high density population areas. We also reject NAB’s argument that adoption of a smaller grid would violate the
LCRA’s mandate that the translator and LPFM services remain “equal in status” because it would result in the
dismissal of additional translator applications. As noted above, given that the two services compete for the same
spectrum, the LCRA requires the Commission to make choices between licensing new LPFM and translator stations
in certain areas. See supra, ¶ 17.
124 As described below, we note that the analyses in Appendices A and B are based on updated BIA data.
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located in the 21x21 grid. In these markets, the smaller grid contains the concentrated core
population and, for the reasons explained in paragraph 39 above, we used the smaller grid to
determine both the number of licensed stations and the number of channels available for future
LPFM stations. Thus, “spectrum available” markets are those markets in which the number of
LPFM channels within the applicable grid meets or exceeds the market’s channel floor. The
results of our market studies using the 21x21 grid, where applicable, are presented in Appendix
B. We did not subject the 31x31 “spectrum limited” markets to the 21x21 population threshold
test for several reasons. First, any such market would necessarily remain a “spectrum limited”
market on the basis of a 21x21 grid analysis. More importantly, the 31x31 grid analysis in each
of these markets establishes that few opportunities remain within the larger grid for new LPFM
stations. Thus, we find that it is necessary that our “spectrum limited” market translator
application processing rules, as described below, protect all of the limited LPFM licensing
opportunities within the larger grid in such markets. In addition, for the reasons stated above, we
also will require a translator applicant in any top 50 spectrum limited market to demonstrate that
its out-of-grid proposal would not preclude the only LPFM station licensing opportunity at that
location (“Top 50 Market Preclusion Showing”) by making the showing described below. We
note that the analyses in Appendices A and B are based on updated BIA data, resulting in several
changes from the analysis attached to the Third Further Notice, including the addition of three
radio markets listed in the appendices and the removal of two markets previously listed in
Appendix A.
42.
We next consider other proposed “tweaks” to our methodology. Prometheus and
REC first urge us to set higher channel floors, arguing that, given the “overstatement of LPFM
availability in the Commission’s methodology, the proposed floors are too low to achieve the
envisioned LPFM license availability.”125 They assert that there are a number of unknown
factors in determining LPFM availability, including suitability and availability of the site,
population levels, and demand for LPFM at these locations.126
43.
We believe that our adoption of the smaller grid in those markets with a core
concentrated population largely addresses these concerns because it excludes from our analysis


125 Joint Proposal at 7.
126 Joint Proposal at 7. REC and Prometheus likewise note certain anomalies in our methodology as further support
for the assertion that the Commission’s studies have overestimated LPFM channel availability. For example,
Prometheus notes that the Commission failed to use computer water data files, so-called water files, for the purposes
of assessing available locations for LPFM in El Paso, Texas, and Santa Barbara, California. See Joint Proposal at 6.
We agree that the number of available channels in El Paso should have been 15 instead of 17 at the time of our
original analysis, but we now show that number to be 18. However, this does not change that market’s “spectrum
available” designation. For Santa Barbara (and in other cases), Commission staff manually accounted for bodies of
water rather than relying on water files. REC Networks maintains that the Commission’s study did not properly
exclude search points that were in Mexico, and did not account for vacant Mexican allotments. See Comments of
REC Networks at 7, fn. 24. Again, Commission staff manually excluded points in Mexico. Finally, some
commenters questioned the Commission’s data for the Syracuse and Danbury markets. See Comments of Alan W.
Jurison at 2 (asserting that, contrary to Commission study, there are 19, rather than 2, licensed translators in the
Syracuse market), and Comments of Communications Technologies, Inc. at 2 (asserting that, contrary to
Commission study, there are 11, not 5, translators in Danbury). We acknowledge the discrepancies noted by these
commenters and have revised our analysis of these markets accordingly.
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LPFM opportunities in areas with little or no population. It is also the case that our studies
demonstrate that multiple grid points are available for many of the identified channels and that
more than one LPFM station can operate on identified channels in some markets. We find that
these factors adequately counter-balance uncertainties regarding site availability, site suitability
and local demand for LPFM licenses. We will also continue to count both identified vacant
channels and those channels currently licensed to LPFM stations as “available.” Excluding
currently licensed LPFM channels from our “available LPFM channels” findings, as proposed by
Prometheus and REC,127 would be inconsistent with our interpretation of Section 5(1) to require
consideration of existing licenses as part of the “licenses are available” metric.128 Moreover,
eliminating licensed channels from consideration would not create many (if any) new LPFM
opportunities because it would not convert any top 50 “spectrum available” market into a
“spectrum limited” market.129 Finally, we decline to break out hyphenated Arbitron markets into
separate submarkets, as suggested by REC and others, because we believe that ample LPFM
opportunities remain in most submarkets.130 Also, without clear delineation within the markets,
there would be no reasonable way of determining which translators would be processed, should
two cities within a market have different spectrum available/spectrum limited outcomes.
44.
NAB does not oppose the channel floors, per se, but urges us to count both
channels and locations toward the channel floors.131 We reject this suggestion. As Prometheus
notes, the Commission cannot determine whether there is demand for a future LPFM station at
any identified location.132 Moreover, as we have emphasized previously, this may be the last
opportunity to meaningfully expand opportunities to provide LPFM service due to the combined
impacts of limited spectrum and the strict technical licensing standards mandated by the LCRA.
In contrast, and as we also explained in the Third Further Notice, flexible translator licensing
rules ensure that abundant translator licensing opportunities will remain after the forthcoming
LPFM window. Thus, consistent with the broad interpretive principles set forth above, we find
that it is appropriate to use conservative techniques to assess LPFM availability in a given
market, including counting available LPFM channels, not locations.
45.
In the Third Further Notice, we proposed “LPFM Channel Floors” of potential
LPFM licensing opportunities in the 150 largest markets, as well as smaller markets where more
than four translator applications are pending. These channel floors range from 8 potential LPFM
channels in the top 20 markets to 5 potential LPFM channels below the top 100 markets.133 We


127 See Joint Proposal at 10.
128 See supra, ¶ 16.
129 For example, Orlando is currently a “spectrum available” market because the number of “available” LPFM
channels meets or exceeds its LPFM channel floor of 7, with 9 LPFM channels available, and one licensed LPFM
station. Eliminating the one licensed channel from consideration would not change the “spectrum available”
designation because the channel floor would still be met.
130 Reply Comments of REC Networks at 3-4.
131 See Comments of NAB at 17-19.
132 Reply Comments of Prometheus, at 10; Joint Proposal at 7.
133 Third Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 9996-97.
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based these figures on a rough approximation of the number of noncommercial educational
(“NCE”) stations in the top 150 markets. We selected the NCE FM service as a point of
reference because that service is the radio service most similar to the LPFM service and,
therefore, the best gauge of local community needs for such service.134 Commenters who
addressed our proposed channel floors disputed neither our reasoning nor the specific ranges of
channel floors or markets selected for those ranges. Thus, based on our examination of the
record, we conclude that the proposed channel floors are a reasonable standard. We find that
these floors adequately further the development of the LPFM service in spectrum-limited
markets, as intended by Section 5(1) of the LCRA, and strike an effective balance by ensuring
that licenses for both LPFM and translator services are available in as many communities as
possible, as required by our collective reading of Sections 5(1) and 5(2) of the LCRA.
Accordingly, we adopt the channel floors as proposed in the Third Further Notice.
46.
We will, however, revise our processing approach with regard to certain translator
applications in both “spectrum limited” and “spectrum available” markets. As an initial matter,
we recognize that our use of the 21x21 grid in certain markets has turned some “spectrum
available” markets into “spectrum limited” markets. For the reasons discussed above, we find
that translators serve community needs, especially those in rural or underserved areas.135 As
such, we agree with NAB that translator applicants in “spectrum limited” markets should be
given an opportunity to demonstrate that their applications, if granted, would not preclude any
LPFM opportunities.136 We also will permit minor amendments to meet this “no preclusion” test.
Translator applicants proposing “move-in” modifications and modification applications that
propose to move into a “spectrum limited” market will also be allowed to make such a showing.
This approach is also consistent with our combined reading of Sections 5(1) and 5(2) because it
furthers the statutory goal of ensuring that the Commission provide licensing opportunities for
both services in as many communities as possible. Prometheus and others fail to explain how
this narrow exception to allow continued translator processing in a “spectrum limited” market
will preclude LPFM opportunities,137 given that, as described in more detail below, we will
require translator applicants to protect all channel/point combinations with the assumption that
all LPFM applicants in these markets will be eligible for second-adjacent channel waivers. We
likewise agree that translator applicants in “spectrum available” markets should be afforded
some opportunity to amend their applications. As noted by many translator advocates,
circumstances have changed since 2003, and transmitter sites may no longer be available. As
described in more detail below, we will provide applicants with a limited opportunity to amend


134 Id., 26 FCC Rcd at 9996.
135 See supra, ¶ 18.
136 See supra, ¶ 21 (arguing that translator applicants should be allowed to continue prosecution in “dismiss all”
market in certain circumstances).
137 See supra, ¶ 35. As discussed herein, translators will be required to demonstrate that their applications will not
preclude any identified LPFM opportunities. Accordingly, the translator settlement procedures we adopt herein will
not impede LPFM spectrum availability. We disagree with LPFM advocates’ contention that the availability of
settlements would create an “open-ended” scenario that would allow translators to pick the best channels. See ¶37,
supra. We have placed tight restrictions on the translator amendment process, including a time deadline. See infra,
¶ 47.
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their applications so long as their proposals do not eliminate any LPFM channel/point
combination in any of the 156 market grids and, where applicable, satisfy the Top 50 Market
Preclusion Showing. We do not believe that allowing translator applicants these limited
opportunities to amend their applications will impede our ability to guarantee licensing
opportunities equivalent to the LPFM channel floors we adopt herein.138
47.
Accordingly, we direct the Bureau to issue a public notice requiring all
applicants affected by the national application cap and/or the one application per applicant per
market limitation (discussed below) to identify applications for continued processing, consistent
with these limits.139
The auctions anti-collusion rule will remain in effect during this process.140
Upon completion of this selection/dismissal process, the Bureau will process the remaining
applications in “spectrum available” markets, starting with the singletons. Mutually exclusive
applications from this group will then be placed on public notice and afforded a 60-90 day
window to resolve their application conflicts via settlement or amendment. Any amendment of
an application that precludes any LPFM channel/point combination identified in the grid studies
will result in application dismissal. Amendments will be processed on a first-come, first-served
basis, with all unamended applications having cut-off protection against amendments filed
during the settlement period.
48.
Applicants with proposals in “spectrum limited” markets will be given one
opportunity to modify their proposals to eliminate all preclusive impacts on protected LPFM
channel/point combinations. An applicant in a top 50 “spectrum limited” market proposing
facilities outside the studied 31x31 grid also will need to demonstrate either that no LPFM
station could be licensed at the proposed transmitter site or, if an LPFM station could be licensed
at the site, that an additional channel remains available for a future LPFM station at the same
site. Applications that conflict with protected channel/point combinations or fail to make such a
Top 50 Market Preclusion Showing and that are not amended to come into compliance with
these requirements will be dismissed. As explained above, applications in 31x31 grid “spectrum
limited” markets must protect all channel/point combinations within this grid. Applicants in
21x21 grid “spectrum limited” markets must protect all channel/point combinations only within
this grid. We limit “spectrum limited” grid protection requirements in these markets because, as
noted above, we believe that this standard will protect those areas where LPFM stations can best
serve the needs of local communities and, therefore, will most faithfully implement Sections 5(1)
and 5(2). From this point, all remaining applications will generally proceed down the same
singleton/MX/settlement/auction/long form path. Amendments will be processed on a first-
come, first-served basis, including for the purpose of determining whether an additional LPFM
channel remains available at a specific location outside the grid.141 We terminate the freeze on


138 See supra, ¶ 37.
139 See infra, ¶ 61.
140 See 47 C.F.R. § 1.2105(c).
141 It may be the case that one out-of-grid translator application assumes the dismissal of a second application to
show that an additional LPFM channel remains available at the applicant’s transmitter site and the second
application remains pending after the completion of the translator amendment/dismissal process. Application cut-
off rights will be used initially to resolve the conflict. Cut-off rights will be determined by the filing date of each
(continued….)
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the grant of pending Auction No. 83 translator applications142 and direct the Bureau to resume
application processing in accordance with these procedures.
49.
We provide the following guidance on translator application processing.
“Protected” LPFM channel/point combinations will be determined differently in “spectrum
available” and “spectrum limited” markets. In a “spectrum available” market, a channel/point
combination must be protected only if LPFM operations at the site would be fully spaced to all
pending translator applications on co-, first- and second-adjacent channels (and, of course, would
satisfy all other spacing requirements). Thus, a translator applicant in a “spectrum available”
market that does not modify its technical proposal would always qualify for further processing
because the proposed translator facility cannot conflict, by definition, with any protected
channel/point combinations. “Spectrum available” market amendments, however, may not
conflict with protected LPFM channel/point combinations. “Spectrum limited” calculations,
including Top 50 Market Preclusion Showing calculations, will assume the dismissal of all
translator applications in the market. This differing treatment of pending translator applications
is based on our determination that sufficient channels are/are not available if all translator
applications remain pending.
Moreover, the “spectrum limited” channel/point and Top 50
Market Preclusion Showing calculations, will not take into account second-adjacent channel
spacings to authorized stations and other pending applications, i.e., will assume that an LPFM
applicant could make a sufficient showing to obtain a second-adjacent channel spacing waiver.
Finally, “spectrum limited” calculations will not take into account I.F. spacing requirements. We
find that these more restrictive “spectrum limited” market processing standards are necessary to
safeguard LPFM licensing opportunities in these markets. As noted, the protection scheme for
“spectrum available” markets 1-50 and for all other studied markets are limited to the particular
grid used in each market. LPFM licensing opportunities outside the grid in these markets are not
protected in either “spectrum limited” or “spectrum available” markets. Thus, a translator
application specifying a site at a distance equal to or greater than the minimum LPFM-translator
distance separation requirements and otherwise in compliance with licensing rules would be
grantable under these processing standards in all “spectrum limited” markets 51 and smaller and
all “spectrum available” markets.

C.

Prevention of Trafficking in Translator Station Construction Permits and
Licenses

1.

Background

50. The Third Further Notice tentatively concluded that our proposed market-based
translator application processing policy would not be sufficient to deter speculative licensing
(Continued from previous page)


applicant’s complete and acceptable Top 50 Market Preclusion Showing. If the conflict(s) cannot be resolved on
this basis, the staff will notify the affected applicant(s) of the conflict(s). The affected applicant(s) must resolve the
conflict(s) during the settlement period. Failure to do so will result in the dismissal of any application that assumes
the dismissal of a second but still pending application. In cases involving multiple applications that have related
conflicts between proposed translator station channels and those specified for future LPFM licensing, failure to
resolve all conflicts will result in the dismissal of all related applications.
142 See Creation of a Low Power Radio Service, Second Order on Reconsideration and Further Notice of Proposed
Rule Making, 20 FCC Rcd 6763, 6778 (2005).
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conduct because the remaining translator filings present significant issues of abuse of our
licensing process.143 It tentatively concluded that nothing in the LCRA limits the Commission’s
ability to address the potential for licensing abuses by any applicant in Auction No. 83, and
sought comment on processing policies to deter the potential for speculative abuses among the
remaining translator applicants.144 Specifically, it sought comment on whether to establish an
application cap for the applications that would remain pending in non-spectrum limited markets
and unrated markets, and asked whether a cap of 50 or 75 applications in a window would force
filers with a large number of applications to concentrate on those proposals and markets where
they have bona fide service aspirations.145 The Third Further Notice also asked whether
applicants should be limited to one or a few applications in any particular market, noting that a
limitation of this sort could limit substantially the opportunity to warehouse and traffic in
translator authorizations while promoting diversity goals.146
It also sought comment on
alternative approaches to protect against abuses in the translator licensing process.147
2.

Comments

51. Many commenters support some form of cap,148 with several supporting a cap of 50
or 75 per applicant nationally, as proposed in the Third Further Notice.149 Alan W. Jurison
suggests that such a high cap should be coupled with new translator ownership rules and a
waiver system to allow bona fide applicants to file numerous applications nationally.150 Others
support our suggestion of having a cap on the number of applications per market.151 Kyle
Magrill suggests a tiered, market-based cap whereby the more applications an applicant files
nationally, the further the number of applications per market must decrease.152


143 26 FCC Rcd at 9999.
144 Id.
145 Id.
146 Id.
147 Id.
148 Comments of Common Frequency, Inc., at 11; Comments of WFCR at 9; Comments of NPR at 5. NPR feels,
however, that such a cap is still inadequate to prevent translator trafficking. Comments of NPR at 12.
149 26 FCC Rcd at 9999; See Comments of Charles Keiler at 10; Comments of CSN at 3; Comments of Jerry
Isenhart at 2. CSN states that a cap is preferable to dismissing all applications in a given market as a blanket
dismissal could punish translator applicants that were not engaged in speculative practices. Comments of CSN at 3.
REC Networks proposes a nationwide ownership cap of 30 translators. Comments of REC Networks at 17.
150 Comment of Alan W. Jurison at 3.
151 Comments of Kevin M. Fitzgerald at 2; Comments of Edgewater Broadcasting & Radio Assist Ministry at 8;
Comments of Jerry Isenhart at 2; Comments of Joint LPFM Advocates at 30-31. Edgewater Broadcasting and Radio
Assist Ministry support market caps, such as a cap of three applications per market, but oppose a national cap.
Comments of Edgewater Broadcasting & Radio Assist Ministry at 8.
152 Reply Comments of Kyle Magrill at 2.
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52.
However, EMF opposes any cap at all,153 believing it will reduce translator
services to smaller markets.154 Other commenters argue that caps fail to distinguish serious
applicants from speculators155 and suppress competition.156 Some commenters simply disagree
with the concerns over speculative filings described in the Third Further Notice.157 For example,
Kyle Magrill suggests that non-commercial applicants may have filed large numbers of translator
applications because they believed that it was the best way to ensure they would obtain a
permit,158 and even those permits that were sold have resulted in new facilities on the air serving
the public interest.159 Edgewater Broadcasting, Inc., and Radio Assist Ministry, Inc., also note
that applicants accused of trafficking have not in fact violated any of the Commission’s Rules.160
53.
Several commenters propose alternatives to caps or additional safeguards against
trafficking: placing limitations on the number of outstanding translator construction permits an
applicant can have;161 restricting sales of permits to allow applicants to only recover costs;162 or
preventing outright the sale of unbuilt construction permits.163 NPR suggests establishing a
holding period obligating future translator permittees to construct and operate newly authorized
translators.164
3.

Analysis

54.
We conclude that both a national cap and a market-based cap for the markets
identified in Appendix A are appropriate to limit speculative licensing conduct and necessary to
bolster the integrity of the remaining Auction 83 licensing. Without such caps, we believe that
the translator licensing process we adopt herein could result in the prosecution of thousands of
applications for the primary purpose of for-profit assignments of the issued translator


153 Comments of EMF at 13.
154 Comments of EMF at 13.
155 Comments of CRA at 6.
156 Comments of Edgewater Broadcasting, Inc., and Radio Assist Ministry, Inc., at 8.
157 26 FCC Rcd at 9999; Comments of EMF at 13; Reply Comments of EMF at 11-12.; Comments of Kyle Magrill
at 7.
158 Similarly, WFCR explains its opposition to a low cap on the grounds that, because applicants cannot know
whether their applications will be mutually exclusive with other applications, they will want to file multiple
applications to improve their chances of obtaining a permit. Comments of WFCR at 9.
159 Comments of Kyle Magrill at 7.
160 Comments of Edgewater Broadcasting, Inc., and Radio Assist Ministry, Inc., at 10.
161 Comments of Charles Keiler at 10-11.
162 Comments of NPR at 12; Comments of EMF at 13; Reply Comments of Prometheus at 17.
163 Comments of Stuart C. Hansen at 1; Comments of EMF at 13; Comments of Joint LPFM Advocates at 31. NAB
believes that the proposal to restrict the use or sale of translators exceeds the scope of the Third Further Notice.
Reply Comments of NAB at 12.
164 Comments of NPR at 12.
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authorizations. If the permits were issued in an auction, then we would be much less concerned
about such speculation in permits. However, as we noted in the Third Further Notice, we expect
that a substantial portion of the remaining grants will be made pursuant to our settlement
procedures rather than through auctions.165
55.
We first must address whether the adoption of national and per-market caps on
the processing of pending translator applications to protect the integrity of the translator
licensing process is consistent with Section 5 of the LCRA. Although that provision mandates
that the Commission consider the availability of translator licenses to serve the needs of local
communities in licensing new translators, it does not limit the Commission’s authority under the
Act to adopt measures to protect the integrity of its licensing processes. Accordingly, we
conclude that adoption of the caps to safeguard the integrity of our licensing processes is
consistent with Section 5’s requirement to ensure that licenses are available to both LPFM and
translator services.
56.
We next address the public interest benefits of translator application caps. As set
forth above,166 the initiation of new translator service resulting from a grant of some of those
applications may benefit the public interest. At the same time, we believe strongly that remedial
limits are needed to protect the integrity of our licensing process. Non-feeable application
procedures and flexible auction and translator settlement rules clearly have facilitated and
encouraged the filing of speculative proposals. Our CDBS database shows that successful
Auction 83 applicants have sold more than 700 translator authorizations and let almost 1000
permits expire without completing construction. In some markets, certain applicants have filed
dozens of applications, even though it is inconceivable that one entity would construct and
operate all of the proposed stations.167 The filers that will be affected by our national cap and by
our per-market cap account for much of this licensing activity. While we recognize that high-
volume filers did not violate our rules, these types of speculative filings are fundamentally at
odds with the core Commission broadcast licensing policies and contrary to the public interest.168
57.
Although we have considered a number of alternatives, we find that imposing a
cap on applications is the most administratively feasible solution for processing this large group
of long-pending applications. As some comments suggest, a longer term solution may require
structural changes to the translator licensing process, e.g., holding period and/or construction
requirements, no-profit restrictions on the assignment of authorizations, a cap on application
filings, etc.169
However, we believe that the caps we adopt today will both deter trafficking and


165 26 FCC Rcd at 9999.
166 See supra, ¶ 18.
167 See Third Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 9999.
168 E.g., Pathfinder Communications Corp., Memorandum Opinion and Order, 18 FCC Rcd 9272, 9279 (2003)
(“[I]mplicit in the filing of any facility application is that the applicant stands ‘ready, willing and able’ to construct
and operate as proposed.”) (emphasis added); Meredith Corporation, Memorandum Opinion and Order, 5 FCC Rcd
7015, 7016 (1990) (party maintaining an application on file is effectively representing its intention to construct and
operate the proposed station).
169 See supra, ¶ 53.
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provide the fastest path to additional translator and LPFM licensing in areas where the need for
additional service is greatest. We emphasize that the cap procedures we adopt will give
applicants the opportunity to elect which applications will be processed toward a grant. We
expect that applicants will choose applications that will maximize new service to the public.
Even with the dismissal of many of the pending translator applications pursuant to the
application caps and our market-based processing policy, we are confident that the same or
comparable licensing opportunities will remain available in a future translator filing window
under our flexible translator licensing standards. In short, these dismissals will only delay, not
deny, licenses to applicants whose translator applications are dismissed but who remain
interested in effectuating their proposals.
58.
We believe that a national cap of 50 applications per applicant from the pending
Auction 83 applications is an appropriate limit. Because translators are relatively cheap to
construct and operate, we believe it is feasible for the organizations that filed the highest volume
of applications to construct and operate 50 additional stations. Accordingly, in balancing the
competing goals of deterring speculation and expanding translator service to local communities,
we conclude that a national cap of 50 applications is appropriate. We note that this cap is high
enough to permit all but twenty applicants to prosecute all of their pending applications.170
We
also note that even some translator advocates commented in support of a cap of 50
applications.171
59.
In addition to the national cap of 50 applications, we believe that a per-market cap
of one application in the markets identified in Appendix A is appropriate. Our translator rules
contemplate that a party may receive an authorization for a second or third FM translator serving
substantially the same area as the first only after making a “showing of technical need for such
additional stations.”172 This is a spectrum efficiency rule based on our experience that parties
rarely need such multiple translators. Yet in some cases, applicants in Auction 83 submitted
dozens of applications for a particular market.173 These applications were clearly filed for
speculative reasons or to skew our auction procedures, as it is inconceivable that a single entity
would construct so many stations in a single market. Given the volume of pending applications,
it is not administratively feasible to conduct a case-by-case assessment of technical need for such
multiple applications within the markets identified in Appendix A. Accordingly, we will apply a
cap of one translator application per applicant in the markets identified in Appendix A. For


170 The twenty affected applicants represent only 3 percent of the pool of Auction 83 applicants. In contrast, the cap
of ten applications would have affected approximately 12 percent of the Auction 83 applicants. See Third Further
Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 9987, n.11. We also note that almost all of the largest filers have already received a
significant number of Auction 83 translator construction permits. Of the eight applicants with the greatest number
of pending short-form applications, seven have received between 32 and 586 permits.
171 See Comments of Charles Keiler at 10; Comments of CSN at 3.
172 47 C.F.R. § 74.1232(b).
173 See Third Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 9999 (one applicant holds 25 of the 27 translator applications
proposing locations within 20 kilometers of Houston’s city center coordinates; two applicants hold 66 of the 74
applications proposing service to the New York City market).
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applications outside those markets, where the duplication issue is more manageable, we will
apply our technical need rule on a case-by-case basis.174
60.
For translator applicants, our revised processing policies provide a straightforward
licensing path that will likely result in more than 1000 new construction permits, thereby
increasing the total number of authorizations issued out of Auction 83 to over 4500. At the
same time, the national and per-market caps will require each affected applicant to prioritize its
filings and to focus on proposals at locations where it has a bona fide interest in providing
service. We believe that these restrictions are necessary to impose on these applicants a level of
discipline similar to that which competitive bidding procedures provide in full service station
licensing.
61.
We will require parties with more than 50 pending applications nationally and/or
more than one pending application in the markets identified in Appendix A to identify and affirm
their continuing interest in those pending applications for which they seek further Commission
processing, consistent with these limits. Both pending long form and short form applications
will be subject to these applicant-based caps. In the event that an applicant does not timely
comply with these dismissal procedures, we direct the staff to first apply the national cap,
retaining on file the first 50 filed applications and dismissing those that were subsequently filed.
The staff will then dismiss all but the first filed application in each of the markets identified in
Appendix A.

D.

Restrictions on the Use of FM Translators to Rebroadcast the Signals of AM

Stations

1.

Background

62.
In 2009, the Commission authorized the use of FM translators with licenses or
permits in effect as of May 1, 2009, to rebroadcast the signal of a local AM station.175 The
limitation of cross-service translator usage to already-authorized FM translators was adopted
with the intention of preserving opportunities for future LPFM licensing.176 Two parties filed
petitions for partial reconsideration of this aspect of the 2009 Translator Order. Both petitions
argue that the limitation of cross-service translators does not serve the public interest and is
unfair to both AM stations and FM translator applicants.177


174 Given the impact of the national cap of 50 applications, we expect that there will be little or no duplication of
applications in markets that are not identified in Appendix A.
175 See Amendment of Service and Eligibility Rules for FM Broadcast Translator Stations, Report and Order, 24
FCC Rcd 9642 (2009) (“2009 Translator Order”). Specifically, no portion of the 60 dBu contour of the FM
translator station may extend beyond the smaller of: (a) a 25-mile radius from the AM transmitter site; or (b) the 2
mV/m daytime contour of the AM station. See 47 C.F.R. § 74.1201(g).
176 See 2009 Translator Order, 24 FCC Rcd at 9650. This restriction is codified at 47 C.F.R. § 74.1232(d).
177 Petition for Reconsideration by Robert A. Lynch, filed July 28, 2009; Petition for Reconsideration by Edward A.
Schober, filed July 28, 2009. Both petitions remain pending.
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63.
The practical effect of the date limit imposed in the 2009 Translator Order was to
exclude pending Auction No. 83 FM translator applications as well as future FM translator
applications from the pool of potential cross-service translators. In the Third Further Notice, we
asked whether it would be appropriate to remove this limit on cross-service translators with
respect to those pending applications.178 Specifically, we asked whether the limit should be
removed for those applications which were on file as of May 1, 2009. We stated that resolving
this issue before processing of the pending translator applications would align FM translator
processing outcomes more closely with demand by enabling applicants to take the rebroadcasting
option into account in the translator settlement and licensing processes, thereby advancing the
goals of Section 5(2) of the LCRA.179 We also noted that allowing cross-service translators had
been a very successful deregulatory policy.180
2.

Comments

64.
Most commenters support removing the date restriction for pending FM translator
applications. These commenters point to the public service benefits that FM translators have
provided to AM stations.181 Some argue that the need for the date restriction is going away now
that the Commission will be opening an LPFM window.182
65.
To the extent that commenters take a contrary position, most argue for some type
of restriction or limitation on cross-service translators in general. Some LPFM proponents argue
for qualifying criteria for cross-service translators, such as local ownership, lack of in-market
FM ownership by the AM licensee, diversity of ownership, amount of local programming, and
quality of AM signal.183 REC Networks and Prometheus argue that the 250-watt power level
allowed for “fill-in” AM translators should be reduced before cross-service translators are
expanded.184 NPR argues that the date restriction should be kept in place unless the Commission
adopts strong anti-trafficking rules so that traffickers in the current pool of Auction 83 applicants
will not benefit from the change.185


178 Third Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 10000.
179 Third Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 10000.
180 Id.
181 See, e.g., Comments of NAB at 2-5; Comments of Robert A. Lynch at 2-3; Comments of Charles Keiler at 11;
Comments of Alan W. Jurison at 5; Comments of Mark D. Humphrey; Comments of Radio Power Inc. at 6-7;
Comments of Glades Media Co. LLC; Comments of CRA at 8; Comments of Kevin M. Fitzgerald at 2-3.
182 See, e.g., Comments of Alan W. Jurison at 5 (the date limitation “served its purpose . . . but its usefulness will
have expired when this rulemaking is completed”); Reply Comments of NAB at 2-4.
183 See, e.g., Comments of Prometheus at 32-34; Comments of REC Networks at 15-16; Comments of Jeff Sibert at
5-6; Comments of Common Frequency at 16; Comments of John Giberson at 2.
184 See Comments of REC Networks at 15; Reply Comments of Prometheus at 20-21.
185 See Comments of NPR at 14.
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3.

Analysis

66.
We will modify the date restriction to allow pending FM translator applications
that are granted to be used as cross-service translators. As we explained in the Third Further
Notice
, the limitation of cross-service translator usage to already-authorized translators was
adopted with the intention of preserving opportunities for future LPFM licensing.186 In the Third
Further Notice
, we decided to revisit this pre-LCRA policy. We proposed changes in the FM
translator application processing rules designed to accomplish more effectively the goal of
preserving spectrum for future LPFM licensing.187 Given those proposed changes, as stated
above, we indicated that removing the date limit, at least for the pending translator applications,
could align FM translator licensing outcomes more closely with demand, thereby advancing the
goals of Section 5(2) of the LCRA.188
67.
With our adoption of the revised translator application processing policies
described above, we believe we have effectively addressed the LPFM spectrum issue that
prompted the pre-LCRA date limitation on cross-service translators. Having done so, we believe
the translators that are put into service from the pool of pending applications should be put to
their best use, consistent with the directive of Section 5(2) to carry out FM translator licensing
“based on the needs of the local community.”189 Our view is that, with the FM translator
processing policies described above in effect, the public interest benefits from expanding cross-
service translator service are considerably more significant than any downside from allowing any
forthcoming Auction No. 83 authorizations to be used for such service.
68.
With respect to the proposed restrictions or limitations on cross-service
translators sought by LPFM proponents, most are essentially untimely petitions for
reconsideration of the 2009 Translator Order. Accordingly, and because we intend to consider
modifications to our FM translator rules and procedures more generally in a separate proceeding,
as discussed below, we decline to consider these arguments here. In any event, we believe the
LPFM proponents who argue for such restrictions fail to recognize the significant public interest
benefits that will accrue from expanding the pool of potential cross-service translators. In the
2009 Translator Order, we described the substantial benefits to local listeners that cross-service
translators were providing, for example, providing pre-sunrise and post-sunset coverage of
traffic, weather, news and sports programming and improving localism, competition and


186 Third Further Notice, 26 FCC Rcd at 10,000.
187 Id. at 9996-99.
188 Id. at 10,000.
189 LCRA, Section 5(2). We reject NPR’s argument that this will allow pending FM translator applicants to benefit
by trafficking their Auction No. 83 permits or licenses. See Comments of NPR at 14. The date restriction was put
in place to preserve LPFM spectrum, not to inhibit trafficking. With the processing policies described above in
place, we have preserved as much LPFM spectrum as feasible, thereby opening a path to initiate new FM translator
service through grants of applications that remain pending after use of the new processing policies. We believe the
public will benefit if we enable those new translator stations to rebroadcast either an AM or FM signal. As for the
trafficking issue, as we have explained above, we have adopted both a national cap and a per-market cap (for the
markets identified in Appendix A) in order to balance the competing goals of preserving the integrity of our
licensing process while enabling new service to the public.
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diversity in a number of radio markets.190 The record here confirms those benefits and supports a
change in the date limitation to allow permits or licenses arising from pending FM translator
applications to be used as cross-service translators.191
69.
Again, we intend to revise our FM translator rules before the next FM translator
auction window, so parties will have an opportunity to present their views at that time with
respect to any appropriate modifications in our translator rules and procedures. If parties wish to
argue that priority should be given in future translator auction windows to Class D AM stations
or AM stations that lack a co-owned FM outlet, then they may do so in that proceeding.
70.
Accordingly, we grant reconsideration of the 2009 Translator Order to the extent
of allowing authorizations arising from pending FM translator applications to be used as cross-
service translators. With respect to future FM translator applications, we will address their
potential use as cross-service translators in a future rulemaking to revise our FM translator rules.

III.

THIRD ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION

71.
In the Third Report and Order discussed above, the Commission established a
going-forward limit of ten pending short-form applications per applicant from FM translator
Auction No. 83, and directed the Bureau to resume processing the applications of those applicants
in compliance with this numerical cap.192
72.
Petitions for reconsideration opposing the cap were filed by CSN International,
National Religious Broadcasters, Positive Alternative Radio, Inc., and Educational Media
Foundation et. al.193 In light of our adoption of the market-specific translator application
dismissal process described in this Fourth Report and Order, we dismiss them as moot.


190 See 24 FCC Rcd at 9646-50.
191 See, e.g., Comments of NAB at 3-4; Comments of Charles Keiler at 11; Comments of Alan W. Jurison at 5;
Comments of Mark D. Humphrey; Comments of Radio Power Inc. at 2-4; Comments of Glades Media Co. LLC;
Comments of Kevin M. Fitzgerald at 2-3.
192 On March 4, 2008, the Bureau released a Public Notice inviting Auction No. 83 applicants to identify pending
short-form applications for voluntary dismissal to effectuate the ten-application limit. See Media Bureau Invites
Applicants to Select FM Translator Applications for Voluntary Dismissal to Comply With Processing Cap
, Public
Notice, DA 08-496 (rel. Mar. 4, 2008). On April 7, 2008, the Bureau released a Public Notice announcing that it
would cease dismissal of any short-form applications pursuant to the processing cap, in order to provide an
opportunity for the Commission to fully consider arguments raised in the petitions for reconsideration listed herein.
See Media Bureau Suspends Dismissal of FM Translator Applications Related to Processing Cap (MM Docket No.
99-25)
, Public Notice, DA 08-801 (rel. Apr. 7, 2008). The Public Notice also reinstated any translator applications
dismissed pursuant to the March 4th Public Notice.
193 See Petition for Reconsideration of CSN International, filed Feb. 4, 2008; Petition of National Religious
Broadcasters for Reconsideration Regarding Order Imposing Cap on Translator Applications, filed Feb. 15, 2008;
Petition for Reconsideration of Positive Alternative Radio, Inc., filed Feb. 19, 2008; Petition for Reconsideration of
Educational Media Foundation et al., filed Feb. 19, 2008. Pursuant to Section 1.429 of the Rules, any interested
person may petition for reconsideration of a final Commission rulemaking action. 47 C.F.R. § 1.429. A petition
shall state with particularity the respects in which the petitioner believes the action should be changed. See id. at §
1.429(c).
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IV.

PROCEDURAL MATTERS

73. Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility
Act, 5 U.S.C. § 603, the Commission has prepared a Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
(FRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on small entities of the proposals suggested
in this document. The FRFA is set forth in Appendix C.
74. Paperwork Reduction Act. This document contains new information collection
requirements subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-13
(U.S.C. 3501-3520). The requirements will be submitted to the Office of Management and
Budget (OMB) for review under Section 3507(d) of the PRA. The Commission will publish a
separate notice in the Federal Register inviting comments on the new information collection
requirements adopted in this document. In addition, we note that pursuant to the Small Business
Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), we previously
sought specific comment on how the Commission might further reduce the information
collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees. We describe
impacts that might affect small businesses, which includes most businesses with fewer than 25
employees, in the FRFA in Appendix C, infra.
75. Congressional Review Act. The Commission will send a copy of this Fourth Report
and Order in a report to be sent to Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant
to the Congressional Review Act, see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).

V.

ORDERING CLAUSES

76. Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that the Petitions for Reconsideration filed by
Robert A. Lynch on July 28, 2009, and Edward A. Schober on July 28, 2009, ARE GRANTED
IN PART to extent set forth above.
77.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Petitions for Reconsideration filed by CSN
International on February 4, 2008; National Religious Broadcasters on February 15, 2008; and
Positive Alternative Radio, Inc. and Educational Media Foundation on February 19, 2008, ARE
DISMISSED AS MOOT.
78. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that pursuant to pursuant to the authority contained in
Sections 4(i), 301, 302, 303(e), 303(f) and 303(r) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended,
47 U.S.C, Sections 154(i), 301, 302, 303(e), 303(f) and 303(r), and the Local Community Radio
Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-371, 124 Stat. 4072 (2011), this Fourth Report and Order is hereby
ADOPTED and Part 74 of the Commission’s Rules ARE AMENDED as set forth in Appendix
D, effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
79. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the rules adopted herein will become effective
thirty (30) days after publication in the Federal Register, except for any rules or requirements
involving Paperwork Reduction Act burdens, which shall become effective upon announcement
in the Federal Register of OMB approval and an effective date of the rule(s).
80. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission’s Consumer and Governmental
Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, SHALL SEND a copy of this Fourth Report and
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Order, including the Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of
the Small Business Administration.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary
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APPENDIX A

LPFM Spectrum Availability Studies (Thirty-minute Grid)

In order to assess LPFM spectrum availability, the Bureau centered a thirty-minute latitude by
thirty-minute longitude grid over the center-city coordinates of each listed market. Each grid
consists of 961 points – 31 points running east/west by 31 points running north/south. Grid
points are located at one-minute intervals of latitude and longitude. The Bureau analyzed each of
the 100 FM channels (88.1 MHz – 107.9 MHz) at each grid point to determine whether any
channels remain available for future LPFM stations at that location. Only channels that fully
satisfy co-, first- and second adjacent channel LPFM spacing requirements to all authorizations
and applications, including pending translator applications, are treated as available. The area
encompassed by the grid is approximately 35 miles (north/south) by 26 miles (east/west). The
grid is not intended to approximate radio market boundaries. Rather, this methodology is
designed to identify presumptive “core” market locations that could serve significant
populations. Coordinates located over major bodies of water and beyond U.S. borders were
excluded. No attempt was made to otherwise ascertain site viability. For each market that is not
deemed a “Spectrum Limited” market, the Bureau undertook additional LPFM spectrum
availability analyses. See Appendix B for a description of the methodology and market results.

Detailed Column Information

Arb#/Rank -- Arbitron market ranking.

Data compiled from BIA/Kelsey – MEDIA Access
Pro, Version 4.5, Fall 2011 database (“BIA Fall 2011”)

CF#/Rank -- Common Frequency Arbitron market ranking.

See September 27, 2010 Letter
from Jeff Shaw, President, Common Frequency, Inc., Appendix A (“Common Frequency 2010
Study”). Data compiled from Appendix A of Common Frequency 2010 Study. This study uses
an earlier Arbitron rating period. Column lists market rankings as they appear in this study.
This market ranking data is relevant only for data listed in “

Pending/FX apps

” column.

Fall 2011 Arbitron Rankings -- Arbitron market name.

Data compiled from BIA Fall 2011.
20/30 min % -- Percentage of 2010 Census population within the thirty minute grid that is also
within twenty minute grid.

Total Licensed Stations/FM trans. – Number of licensed FM translator stations in market.

Data compiled from BIA Fall 2011.

Total Licensed Stations/LPFM -- Number of licensed LPFM stations in market.

Data
compiled from BIA Fall 2011.

Total Licensed Stations/NCE FMs -- Number of licensed NCE FM stations in market.

Data
compiled from BIA Fall 2011.

LPFM Avail. in 30 minute grid/Locations – Maximum number of LPFM licensing
opportunities in a market on the identified available vacant channels.

In some cases, several
LPFM stations in the same market could use the same channel while satisfying the minimum co-
channel LPFM-LPFM distance separation requirements. This “Locations” number assumes an
advantageous geographic distribution of LPFM transmitter site locations within the market and
includes all vacant channels identified as available in the market. See above for methodology.
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LPFM Avail. in 30 minute grid/Channel – Total number of LPFM channels available for
licensing opportunities in a market.

This “Channel” total counts the number of unique
channels that can be used for LPFM licensing within the grid. See above for methodology.

LPFM Avail. In 30 minute grid/Licensed – Total number of LPFM stations licensed in a
market at locations within the grid.

In-market LPFM stations with transmitter sites located
outside the grid are excluded from this total.

Pending/FX apps – Total number of pending FM translator applications from the 2003
window.

Data compiled from Common Frequency 2010 Study. Common Frequency included
pending translator application from seven embedded markets in the respective parent market
totals. An embedded market is a unique marketing area for the buying and selling of radio air
time. It is contained, either in whole or part, within the boundaries of the larger, “parent,”
market. These embedded (parent) markets are: Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New York);
Monmouth-Ocean (New York); Morristown, NJ (New York), Nassau-Suffolk (New York), San
Jose, CA (San Francisco); Santa Rosa, CA (San Francisco) and Stamford-Norwalk, CT (New
York).

Result –

“Spectrum Limited FX” denotes a market where the number of available LPFM
channels and licensed LPFM stations within the grid is less than the proposed LPFM Channel
Floor in the particular market. Translator applications specifying transmitter locations in these
markets are subject to the “spectrum limited” processing procedures set forth in the Report and
Order.
“See Appendix B” denotes a market where the number of available LPFM channels and
licensed LPFM stations within the grid is equal to or greater than the proposed LPFM Channel
Floor in the particular market. “Spectrum Limited ***” denotes a market with zero pending
translator applications.
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APPENDIX B

LPFM Spectrum Availability Studies (Twenty-minute Grid)

For each market from Appendix A that is not deemed a “Spectrum Limited” market, the Bureau
compared the population within a twenty-minute latitude by twenty-minute longitude grid
centered over the center-city coordinates to the population within the thirty-minute grid. For
purposes of measuring LPFM spectrum availability, the twenty-minute grid is used for any
market in which at least 75 percent of the population within the thirty-minute grid population is
also within the twenty-minute grid
In order to assess LPFM spectrum availability in those markets which satisfy the 75 percent
threshold, the Bureau centered a twenty-minute latitude by twenty-minute longitude grid over the
center-city coordinates of each listed market. Each grid consists of 441 points – 21 points
running east/west by 21 points running north/south. Grid points are located at one-minute
intervals of latitude and longitude. The Bureau analyzed each of the 100 FM channels (88.1
MHz – 107.9 MHz) at each grid point to determine whether any channels remain available for
future LPFM stations at that location. Only channels that fully satisfy co-, first- and second
adjacent channel LPFM spacing requirements to all authorizations and applications, including
pending translator applications, are treated as available. The area encompassed by the grid is
approximately 24 miles (north/south) by 18 miles (east/west). The grid is not intended to
approximate radio market boundaries. Rather, this methodology is designed to identify “core”
market locations that could serve significant populations. Coordinates located over major bodies
of water and beyond U.S. borders were excluded. No attempt was made to otherwise ascertain
site viability.

Detailed Column Information

Arb#/Rank -- Arbitron market ranking.

Data compiled from BIA/Kelsey – MEDIA Access
Pro, Version 4.5, Fall 2011 database (“BIA Fall 2011”)

CF#/Rank -- Common Frequency Arbitron market ranking.

See September 27, 2010 Letter
from Jeff Shaw, President, Common Frequency, Inc., Appendix A (“Common Frequency 2010
Study”). Data compiled from Appendix A of Common Frequency 2010 Study. This study uses
an earlier Arbitron rating period. Column lists market rankings as they appear in this study.
This market ranking data is relevant only for data listed in “

Pending/FX apps

” column.

Fall 2011 Arbitron Rankings -- Arbitron market name.

Data compiled from BIA Fall 2011.

Percent within 20 Minute Grid

– Percentage of the 2010 Census population within the thirty-
minute grid that is also within the twenty-minute grid.

Total Licensed Stations/FM trans. – Number of licensed FM translator stations in market.

Data compiled from BIA Fall 2011.

Total Licensed Stations/LPFM -- Number of licensed LPFM stations in market.

Data
compiled from BIA Fall 2011.

Total Licensed Stations/NCE FMs -- Number of licensed NCE FM stations in market.

Data
compiled from BIA Fall 2011.

LPFM Avail. In 20 minute grid/Locations – Maximum number of LPFM licensing
opportunities in a market on the identified available vacant channels.

In some cases, several
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LPFM stations in the same market could use the same channel while satisfying the minimum co-
channel LPFM-LPFM distance separation requirements. This “Locations” number assumes an
advantageous geographic distribution of LPFM transmitter site locations within the market and
includes all vacant channels identified as available in the market. See above for methodology.
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LPFM Avail. In 20 minute grid/Channel – Total number of LPFM channels available for
licensing opportunities in a market.

This “Channel” total counts the number of unique
channels that can be used for LPFM licensing within the grid. See above for methodology.
“N/A” denotes a market which does not satisfy the 75 percent threshold for 20 minute grid
analysis.

LPFM Avail. In 20 minute grid/Licensed – Total number of LPFM stations licensed in a
market at locations within the grid.

In-market LPFM stations with transmitter sites located
outside the grid are excluded from this total. “N/A” denotes a market which does not satisfy the
75 percent threshold for 20 minute grid analysis.

Pending/FX apps – Total number of pending FM translator applications from the 2003
window.

Data compiled from Common Frequency 2010 Study. Common Frequency included
pending translator application from seven embedded markets in the respective parent market
totals. An embedded market is a unique marketing area for the buying and selling of radio air
time. It is contained, either in whole or part, within the boundaries of the larger, “parent,”
market. These embedded (parent) markets are: Middlesex-Somerset-Union (New York);
Monmouth-Ocean (New York); Morristown, NJ (New York), Nassau-Suffolk (New York), San
Jose, CA (San Francisco); Santa Rosa, CA (San Francisco) and Stamford-Norwalk, CT (New
York).

Grid used for Analysis

– Denotes the size Grid used to determine the result

Result – “

Spectrum Limited FX” denotes a market where the number of available LPFM
channels and licensed LPFM stations within the relevant grid is less than the proposed LPFM
Channel Floor in the particular market. Translator applications specifying transmitter locations
in these markets are subject to the “spectrum limited” processing procedures set forth in the
Report and Order. “Spectrum available FX” denotes a market where the number of available
LPFM channels and licensed LPFM stations within the relevant grid is equal to or greater than
the proposed LPFM Channel Floor in the particular market using the grid results specified.
Translator applications specifying transmitter locations in these markets are subject to the
“spectrum available” processing procedures set forth in the Report and Order. Any result with
“***” in the Result column denotes a market with zero pending translator applications.
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APPENDIX C

Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

1. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA),194 an Initial Regulatory
Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was incorporated in the Third Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking
(Third Further Notice) in MM Docket No. 99-25, and MB Docket No. 07-172, RM-
11338.195 The Commission sought written public comment on the proposals in the Third Further
Notice
, including comment on the IRFA.196 We received no comments specifically directed
toward the IRFA. This Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) conforms to the RFA.

A.

Need for, and Objectives of, the Fourth Report and Order

2.
This rulemaking proceeding was initiated to seek comment on how the enactment
of Section 5 of the Local Community Radio Act of 2010 (“LCRA”)197 would impact the
procedures previously adopted to process the approximately 6,500 applications which remain
from the 2003 FM translator window. The Commission previously established a processing cap
of ten pending short-form applications per applicant from FM translator Auction No. 83. The
Fourth Report and Order concludes that that this cap was inconsistent with the LCRA licensing
criteria. It further concludes that a market-specific, spectrum availability-based translator
application dismissal policy most faithfully implements Section 5 of the LCRA. Specifically, it
sets forth a dismissal policy in which the Commission will impose a national application cap
and/or a one application per applicant per market in the markets identified in Appendix A of the
Fourth Report and Order. It directs the Media Bureau to issue a Public Notice asking applicants
to identify applications for continued processing, consistent with these limits. Upon completion
of this selection/dismissal process, the Bureau will process the remaining applications in
“spectrum available” markets, as defined in the Fourth Report and Order. Applicants will be
able to file amendments demonstrating that their applications will not preclude any LPFM
channel/point combination identified in the grid studies. Those applications that fail to do so will
be dismissed.
3.
Applicants with proposals remaining in “spectrum limited” markets, as defined in
the Fourth Report and Order, will also be given one opportunity to modify their proposals to
eliminate all preclusive impacts on protected LPFM channel/point combinations. Applications
that conflict with protected channel/point combinations and that are not amended to eliminate all
such conflicts will be dismissed.


194 See 5 U.S.C. § 603. The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. § 601 et seq., has been amended by the Contract With America
Advancement Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104-121, 110 Stat. 847 (1996) (CWAAA). Title II of the CWAAA is the
Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA).
195 Creation of a Low Power Radio Service and Amendment of Service and Eligibility Rules for FM Broadcast
Translator Stations
, Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 26 FCC Rcd 9986 (2011).
196 Id. at 10009.
197 Pub. L. No. 111-371, 124 Stat. 4072.
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4.
The Fourth Report and Order also modifies certain recently adopted FM
translator service rule changes as a result of the enactment of the LCRA. Specifically, it
modifies the date restriction contained in Section 74.1232(d) of the Rules to allow pending FM
translator applications that are granted to be used as cross-service translators.

B.

Summary of Significant Issues Raised by Public Comments in Response to
the IRFA

5.
None.

C.

Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the
Proposed Rules Will Apply.

6.
The RFA directs the Commission to provide a description of and, where feasible,
an estimate of the number of small entities that will be affected by the proposed rules.198 The
RFA generally defines the term "small entity" as encompassing the terms "small business,"
"small organization," and "small governmental entity."199 In addition, the term “small business”
has the same meaning as the term “small business concern” under the Small Business Act.200 A
small business concern is one which: (1) is independently owned and operated; (2) is not
dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the
Small Business Administration ("SBA").201
7.
Radio Broadcasting. The policies adopted in the Fourth Report and Order apply
to radio broadcast licensees, and potential licensees of radio service. The SBA defines a radio
broadcast station as a small business if such station has no more than $7 million in annual
receipts.202
Business concerns included in this industry are those primarily engaged in
broadcasting aural programs by radio to the public.203 According to Commission staff review of
the BIA Publications, Inc. Master Access Radio Analyzer Database as of January 31, 2011, about
10,820 (97 percent) of 11,100 commercial radio stations) have revenues of $7 million or less and
thus qualify as small entities under the SBA definition. We note, however, that, in assessing
whether a business concern qualifies as small under the above definition, business (control)
affiliations204 must be included. Our estimate, therefore, likely overstates the number of small


198 Id. § 603(b)(3).
199 Id. § 601(6).
200 Id. § 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition of “small business concern” in the Small Business Act, 15
U.S.C. § 632). Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 601(3), the statutory definition of a small business applies “unless an agency,
after consultation with the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and after opportunity for public
comment, establishes one or more definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of the agency and
publishes such definition(s) in the Federal Register.”
201 15 U.S.C. § 632.
202 See 13 C.F.R. § 121.201, NAICS Code 515112.
203 Id.
204 “[Business concerns] are affiliates of each other when one concern controls or has the power to control the other
or a third party or parties controls or has to power to control both.” 13 C.F.R. § 121.103(a)(1).
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entities that might be affected by our action, because the revenue figure on which it is based does
not include or aggregate revenues from affiliated companies.
8.
In addition, an element of the definition of “small business” is that the entity not
be dominant in its field of operation. We are unable at this time to define or quantify the criteria
that would establish whether a specific radio station is dominant in its field of operation.
Accordingly, the estimate of small businesses to which rules may apply do not exclude any radio
station from the definition of a small business on this basis and therefore may be over-inclusive
to that extent. Also, as noted, an additional element of the definition of “small business” is that
the entity must be independently owned and operated. We note that it is difficult at times to
assess these criteria in the context of media entities and our estimates of small businesses to
which they apply may be over-inclusive to this extent.
9.
FM translator stations and low power FM stations. The policies adopted in the
Fourth Report and Order affect licensees of FM translator and booster stations and low power
FM (LPFM) stations, as well as potential licensees in these radio services. The same SBA
definition that applies to radio broadcast licensees would apply to these stations. The SBA
defines a radio broadcast station as a small business if such station has no more than $7 million
in annual receipts.205 Given the nature of these services, we will presume that all of these
licensees qualify as small entities under the SBA definition. Currently, there are approximately
6131 licensed FM translator stations and 860 licensed LPFM stations.206 In addition, there are
approximately 646 applicants with pending applications filed in the 2003 translator filing
window. Given the nature of these services, we will presume that all of these licensees and
applicants qualify as small entities under the SBA definition.

D.

Description of Projected Reporting, Record Keeping, and Other Compliance
Requirements

10.
In the Fourth Report and Order, we require Auction No. 83 applicants to identify
which applications they wish to preserve to come into compliance with the national and market-
based caps. This will enable the Commission to move quickly through a backlog of applications
that have been pending since 2003 and open a new filing window for the LPFM service.

E.

Steps Taken to Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities and
Significant Alternatives Considered

11.
The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives that it has
considered in reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four alternatives
(among others): (1) the establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or
timetables that take into account the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification,
consolidation, or simplification of compliance or reporting requirements under the rule for small


205 See 13 C.F.R. § 121.201, NAICS Code 515112.
206
See News Release, “Broadcast Station Totals as of December 31, 2006” (rel. Jan. 26, 2007)
(http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-269784A1.doc).
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entities; (3) the use of performance, rather than design, standards; and (4) an exemption from
coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small entities.207
12.
The Fourth Report and Order establishes a market-specific, spectrum availability-
based approach to the processing of remaining translator applications. It also establishes national
and market-specific application caps. In adopting these policies, several alternative approaches
were considered:
13.
Size of Grid. The Commission considered alternatives to the 31x31 market study
grid proposed in the Third Further Notice. For example, it considered a smaller, 21x21 grid, as
well as a larger grid based on Arbitron market boundaries. The Fourth Report and Order adopts
a 31x31 grid, but adopts a 21x21 grid in markets where 75 percent or more of the population is
located in that smaller grid.
14.
Processing of Translator Application in Spectrum-Limited Markets. The Third
Further Notice proposed to dismiss all applications in certain spectrum-limited markets. One
alternative considered was to allow continued processing of certain translator applications in
“spectrum limited” markets. The Fourth Further Notice adopts this policy.
15.
We believe that the adopted policies offer significant benefits to small entities.
The market-based approach ensures additional spectrum for LPFM stations in markets in which
it is most limited while also ensuring the immediate licensing of translator stations in
communities in which ample spectrum remains for both services, including many major markets.
Use of the smaller grid and allowing the processing of additional translators benefit small entities
because they will increase licensing opportunities for both LPFM stations and translators.
Adoption of the application caps will benefit translator and LPFM proponents because it will
allow the Commission to quickly act on applications that have been pending for more than eight
years and to open an LPFM window in the near future.
16.
We likewise believe that removing the date restriction contained in Section
74.1232(d) of the Rules to allow pending FM translator applications that are granted to be used
as cross-service translators will benefit small entities because it will expand opportunities for
translator licensees to rebroadcast AM service.

F.

Report to Congress

17.
The Commission will send a copy of the Fourth Report and Order, including this
FRFA, in a report to be sent to Congress pursuant to the SBREFA.208
In addition, the
Commission will send a copy of the Fourth Report and Order, including the FRFA, to the Chief
Counsel for Advocacy of the SBA. A copy of the Fourth Report and Order and the FRFA (or
summaries thereof) will also be published in the Federal Register.209


207 5 U.S.C. § 603(b).
208
See 5 U.S.C. § 801(a)(1)(A).
209
See 5 U.S.C. § 604(b).
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APPENDIX D

Final Rules

Part 74 of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as follows:
PART 74 – RADIO BROADCAST SERVICES
1. The authority for Part 74 continues to read as follows:
Authority: 47 U.S.C. 154, 302a, 303, 307, 336(f), 336(h) and 554
2. Section 74.1232(d) is amended to read as follows:
§ 74.1232 Eligibility and licensing requirements.
* * * *
(d) An authorization for an FM translator whose coverage contour extends beyond the protected
contour of the commercial primary station will not be granted to the licensee or permittee of a
commercial FM radio broadcast station. Similarly, such authorization will not be granted to any
person or entity having any interest whatsoever, or any connection with a primary FM station.
Interested and connected parties extend to group owners, corporate parents, shareholders,
officers, directors, employees, general and limited partners, family members and business
associates. For the purposes of this paragraph, the protected contour of the primary station shall
be defined as follows: the predicted 0.5mV/m contour for commercial Class B stations, the
predicted 0.7 mV/m contour for commercial Class B1 stations and the predicted 1 mV/m field
strength contour for all other FM radio broadcast stations. The contours shall be as predicted in
accordance with § 73.313(a) through (d) of this chapter. In the case of an FM radio broadcast
station authorized with facilities in excess of those specified by § 73.211 of this chapter, a co-
owned commercial FM translator will only be authorized within the protected contour of the
class of station being rebroadcast, as predicted on the basis of the maximum powers and heights
set forth in that section for the applicable class of FM broadcast station concerned. An FM
translator station in operation prior to March 1, 1991, which is owned by a commercial FM
(primary) station and whose coverage contour extends beyond the protected contour of the
primary station, may continue to be owned by such primary station until March 1, 1994.
Thereafter, any such FM translator station must be owned by independent parties. An FM
translator station in operation prior to June 1, 1991, which is owned by a commercial FM radio
broadcast station and whose coverage contour extends beyond the protected contour of the
primary station, may continue to be owned by a commercial FM radio broadcast station until
June 1, 1994. Thereafter, any such FM translator station must be owned by independent parties.
An FM translator providing service to an AM fill-in area will be authorized only to the permittee
or licensee of the AM radio broadcast station being rebroadcast, or, in the case of an FM
translator authorized to operate on an unreserved channel, to a party with a valid rebroadcast
consent agreement with such a permittee or licensee to rebroadcast that station as the translator's
primary station. In addition, any FM translator providing service to an AM fill-in area must have
been authorized by a license or construction permit in effect as of May 1, 2009, or pursuant to an
51

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 12-29

application that was pending as of May 1, 2009. A subsequent modification of any such FM
translator will not affect its eligibility to rebroadcast an AM signal.
52

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