FCC uses new "rocket docket" process to deny Application for Review in the Philly G-Town MX Group

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The FCC has denied an Application for Review that was filed by Nueva Esperanza, Inc. in the disputed MX Group #304 in the Philadelphia area.  This group was originally awarded to a voluntary 4-way time share group that aggregated time share group which included three Germantown-based groups and South Philadelphia Rainbow Committee. 

Originally, Nueva Esperanza and NAACP Social Justice Law Project filed a Petition to Deny against four of the Group #304 applicants with "Germantown" or "G-Town" in their names under the allegation that the groups colluded prior to the application window to file individual applications and "stack" points during the comparative review.  The Petition to Deny further attempts to demonstrate similariites between the orgnanizaitons and common links between members of their various organizations and cites a blog post made by FCC Media Bureau Bill Lake.

In denying the Petition to Deny and granting the applications, the Commission was able to show, based on various factors including the opposition filed by the G-Town applicants that the parties did not have attributable interests with the other organizations at the time of filing.  They had also stated that the blog post was considered "informal advice" and was not binding.  

In their Petition for Reconsideration, Nueva Esperanza and NAACP stated that the FCC Audio Division igorned testimony that Nueva provided in their reply where they claim that the Germantown entities "admitted to planning their mutual aggregation at the outset".  

In denying the Petition for Reconsideration, the Media Bureau determined that no error was made by the Audio Division and that no policy that prohibits the possibility of time sharing prior to the application exists.  

In the Application for Review that was filed only by Nueva Esperanza, the issues from the Petition for Reconsideration were pretty much restated including the dependence on the blog post.   On December 3, 2015, this Application for Review was denied by the full Commission as it depended on issues brought up in the Petition for Reconsideration and the original Petition to Deny.  

Some of the issues raised during this proceeding were also made in arguments that were made by applicants in MX Group 27 who were working with REC to create a group of stations in Los Angeles.  All of the Petitions and Objections in Los Angeles were dismissed earlier this year in order to proceed with a plan to share the channel.

In today's Commission decision, Commissioner Ajit Pai filed a separate statement which stated that the handling of this Application for Review processed within the Commission as a test of a new internal process called "Rocket Docket".  Under Rocket Docket, the Commission can rule on certain Applications for Review in approximately three-and-a-half months which Pai states is "far quicker than the norm".    Pai would further state:

This item was the test run of the rocket docket and as an excellent example of how the process can work.  Today, the Commission finishes its consideration of an AFR that was filed on August 17, just three-and-a-half months ago.  In the future, I hope that we will make greater use of the AFR rocket docket procedure so the Commission's business is done more efficiently and expeditiously.  

REC MX Notes for MX Group #304

2014

(10/6) NAACP Social Justice Law Project and Nueva Esperanza separately file PTD against Germantown Life Enrichment Center, Historic Germantown Preserved, G-Town Radio and Germantown United Community Development Corporation claiming commonalities in the applications and point stacking.

(10/17) Inge Davidson moves northwest on same channel to break away from MX group.

(10/20) G-Town Radio on behalf of the Germantown 4 files an opposition to NAACP and Nueva's PTD.

(10/30) G-Town and Germantown Life amended their applications to update the board members.  

(10/31) Germantown United filed an amendment to update their board.  

(12/4) 4-way time share agreement between G-Town Radio, Germantown United CDC, Germantown Life Enrichment Center and South Philadelphia Rainbow Committee to aggregate 20 of 35 possible points.  Three of the applicants have PTDs.

(12/4) 2-way time share agreement between Nueva Esperanza and Philadelphia NAACP. The time share document filed is incomplete. While it specifies hours the stations will be on the air, it does not specify which stations will be on which hours.  The agreement further states that Nueva will operate 24 hours per week and NAACP will operate 12 hours per week (the bare minimum).  

[Ed: This group is the Los Angeles 101.5 of the East Coast. This is going to be a mess that the FCC is going to have to dig through.  Pack a lunch for this one.]

2015

(1/15) In what we consider a very controversial decision, the FCC denied the PTDs filed by NAACP and Nueva stating that it is OK for a strong organization to bring in weaker organizations to aggregate points to gang up on other applicants.  REC opposes consortia for exactly this reason. However, what happened is allowed under the rules.  REC strongly disagrees with this decision. We feel there was room for all four organizations (G-Town, NAACP, Nueva and Rainbow). As a result of this, NAACP and Nueva Esperanzaare dismissed.

(2/18) NAACP and Nueva Esperanza filed P4R against the 4 grants citing the alleged collusion issue stating that staff errored in their decision.

(3/2) The G-Town 4 file an opposition to the NAACP/Nueva P4R.

(3/10) NAACP and Nueva Social Justice reply to the G-Town 4 opposition.

(7/16) FCC denies NAACP/Nueva P4R.  (8/18) Nueva Esperanza files AFR on the G-Town 4 decision claiming that this was a case of collusion and the Germantown applicants filed with the full intention of aggregating points.  Nueva points to a blog post made by the Media Bureau chief regarding the LPFM application process.

(10/21) Decision on AFR is on circulation.

(12/3) FCC denies AFR stating that issues claimed were already addressed.