Pascua Yaqui finally gets CP two years too late - Commentary on the slow handling of LPFM applications and NCE ownership issues.

After several years of waiting, Pascua Yaqui Tribe in Tucson finally gets their CP.

The FCC today has issued a Construction Permit to the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. A federally recognized Native American community located south of Tucson.

The application was "held back" by two LPFM applications filed by an individual, Michael Krueger. Krueger actually filed 7 LPFM applications in the Tucson area.

FCC rules prohibit LPFM applicants from filing more than one application in the same area. They also prohibit applications from individuals.

Both REC and the Pasqua Yaqui filed informal objections with the FCC regarding the Krueger applications and how they were impacting the Pascua Yaqui from being able to construct their station.

On August 13, 2003, REC and Pascua Yaqui received a letter from the FCC advising that the Krueger applications will be dismissed.

This story brings to light an ongoing problem in the FCC Media Bureau where applications are not closely being watched when they were filed.

The window for filing these applications was in June 2001. The defective applications were not dismissed until two years later. Then another 4 months, the Pascua Yaqui application waited in limbo for a grant.

The Krueger applications should have been dismissed after they were filed (within 6 months). If that was the case, PYT would have been on building their station two Christmases ago.

Within our Area of Interest in Southern California, we have several situations that the FCC appears to be "sitting" on. There is no visible action such as informal objections that are holding up these applications.

In Southern California:
* East County Broadcasters in Alpine (Eastern San Diego County) has been in "Accepted for Filing" limbo since February.
* Another organization, Startree Foundation originally filed a defective application (had a channel but no location specified). Suddenly they appear on a different channel (their original channel had several competing applications) and now they are Accepted for Filing with no further action.
* In Corona, Templo Palabra Vida, another LPFM application that was "rescued" by REC was originally shown as being dismissed (due to the imposition of third adjacent channel restrictions) and then was put on two different cut-off lists as accepted for filing is still patiently waiting for it's turn to be on the air.
* Calvary Chapel of Fallbrook who found a hole on the dial during the January 2003 remedial filing window in the reserved band is still in limbo due to an objection filed by XETV, the Channel 6 station in Tijuana. FM stations in the US operating in the reserved band (88-92 MHz) are required to protect domestic TV Channel 6 stations but are not required to protect foreign Channel 6 stations.
* In Ventura County, an individual applicant who was a part of a group of 3 competing applications was dismissed. The two remaining applicants, Thomas Aquinas College and Friendships Unlimited are far enough apart to both legally operate. Both stations were declared mutually exclusive (even though they aren't). They are still in limbo.
In Arizona:
* The Center for Living Education in Patagonia (near Nogales) has been Accepted for Filing since September, 2002.
* Avra Valley Community Resources in Marana has been in the Accepted for Filing purgatory since March, 2002.

The FCC seems to be focusing more of it's attention on the "Translator Invasion" window of earlier this year. Of course, the feds were hoping that the translator window would have resulted in a bumper crop of auction money and regulatory fees. The fact that a large majority of the applications were non-commercial (making them not subject to auctions and regulatory fees) is just more egg on Chairman Powell's face.

We hear about Chairman Powell's "localism in broadcasting" push. That's fine and dandy for TV. Myself, I don't watch a lot of TV. Just "Las Vegas" on NBC.

We need the FCC to step to the plate on the abuse of our airwaves (specifically FM) by alleged "non-commercial educational" organizations who have used a loophole in the law to set up translators thousands of miles away. We feel that there should be ownership caps in the non-commercial educational services. LPFM has them, why not full power FM?

We note that during the "Great Translator Invasion" filing window earlier this year, a large majority of the applications were filed by two very questionable organizations that have no other broadcast holdings. One of these organizations plans to have a booth at this year's National Religious Broadcasters convention in Charlotte NC on February 13-18, 2004.

REC urges everyone who cares about local access to the airwaves to comment to the Commission in RM-10803 and raise the issue about ownership caps on non-commercial educational stations as well as the laws about satellite-fed translators.