FAQ: Must LPFM stations give public notice of the filing of applications with the FCC?

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For many years, LPFM stations had not been following the public notice requirements as the specific rule that addresses public notices (§73.3580) is not cross-referenced in §73.801, which is a listing of rules in Part 73 that also apply to LPFM stations. Therefore, the rules have always been interpreted by LPFM advocates, attorneys and FCC staff as stating that public notice requirements do not apply to LPFM stations.

On May 17, 2019, REC Networks and other LPFM advocates received an advisory from the Division Chief of the Audio Division that LPFM stations are subject to the public notice requirements in §73.3580 due to a statutory requirement in §311(a)(1) of the Communications Act.

NOTE: This page is developing based on statements made by the FCC, public notices and REC's advocacy on this issue.

The main thing this impacts is license renewals.  We discuss renewals on our Renewal page and this FAQ question(these links will open a new window)  We will not discuss renewals any further in this FAQ answer.

We caution for now that the current writing of §73.3580 does not reference LPFM in any way and we are currently in a position where we can only make suggestions that will error on the side of caution.  Please note that this is not legal advice and that LPFM stations with any doubts about this (and I don't blame you if you do), should contact a qualified attorney who is knowledgable on LPFM isssues.

§73.3580(a) exempts certain types of applications from any public notice requirements.  For LPFM stations, this could include:

  • A minor change in facilities. The rule refers to rules in other services that are the equivalent to LPFM's §73.870.  For purposes here, we can assume this means any kind of a change in facility location, height, channel, output power, etc.  It can also be assumed to mean a change in time sharing schedule.  (See §73.870(a)).  In other words, anything "minor" that can be done on a Form 318 or 319 outside of a filing window (including waivers for longer distance moves under §73.870(a)). 
  • Involuntary assignments or involuntary transfers of control.  This happens after someone is deceased and the courts order control be transfered to an executor.  This can also happen in the event of a bankruptcy or other judgment where the assets of the organization is transferred to an administrator or trustee.
  • Voluntary transfer of control (board member changes) within the same organization where FCC Form 316 can be filed.
  • Form 319 license to cover and modify license applications.
  • Special temporary authority applications for interim operations on a facility that provides substantually the same service that is currently provided.
  • Requests to extend time to complete a construction permit.  (Tolling and18 to 36 month reqests)
  • Applications for authorization to operate a remote broadcast pickup (RPU) or studio to transmitter link (STL) station.
  • A request for an emergency facility in the event of a natural disaster or national emergency in accordance with §308(a) of the Communications Act.

Existing (and operating) LPFM stations

Per further clarification received on May 20, 2019 from the Audio Division:

LPFM stations that are operating are never required to place any public notice in the newspaper.  Instead, any application (mainly assignments to other organizations) may be broadcast over the air.  These public notice announcements must be broadcast in the second week following when the application was tendered for filing.  One annoucement must run for 4 days during that week.  (See §73.3580(d)(3))

Applicants for new LPFM stations as well as existing LPFM stations that are silent

Parties that do not have an operating station must continue to use the newspaper for their public notices.  The ad must run:

  • In a daily newspaper of general circulation published in the community in which the station is located or proposed to be located, at least wice a week for two consecutive weeks in a three week period; or
  • If there is no daily newspaper, in a weekly newspaper of general circulation published in that community, once a week for 3 consecutive weeks in a 4-week period; or
  • If there is no daily or weekly newspaper published in that community, in the daily newspaper from wherever published, which has the greatest circulation in that community, twice a week for 2 consecutive weeks within a 3-week period.

Public Notice Content

The public notice, whether broadcast over the air or placed in the newspaper, must contain the following elements:

  • The names of all directors.
  • The purpose for which the application was filed (new construction permit, modification, assignment, etc.)
  • The date in which the application was tendered for filing with the FCC.
  • The call letters (if any) and the frequency or channel.
  • For new stations, the facilities sought including class of station (LPFM), location of transmitter site and antenna height.
  • In the case of a modification, the exact nature of the modification sought.
  • In the case of an amendment, the exact nature of the amendment.

Future Rulemaking

The FCC is currently considering MB Docket 17-264, which may make changes to these public notice requirements.  This information may change after that time.

 

Topics: 
LPFM eligibility and ownership questions
LPFM enhancements and change applications
LPFM station planning and construction
LPFM during the filing window
Answer Date: 
Friday, May 17, 2019