LPFM Filing Window: Updated Conflict of Interest Policy for new window filers & existing LPFM stations

Effective July 22, 2023

In this announcement, we are updating our Third Generation Filing Window Conflict Of Interest (COI) policy to address the current trends of the Show of Interest requests that we are receiving.  In addition, we need to clarify how the concept of how COI would apply to existing broadcast stations seeking services from REC Networks.  The general objective of a COI policy is to assure that REC will not put two LPFM applicants into a situation where they will be competing against each other in the window.

Conflict of Interest (COI) General Policy

Our general policy is that any request that we receive that is located within 24 kilometers of a client of REC who has already made, at the minimum, the advance payment would be considered a potential COI, subject to additional review and subject to rejection if a pure COI exists.

Potential COI will be indicated to a user when they use LPFM.app to search a location that is within 24 km of another REC client who has made an advance payment. 

During the process, location that determines the COI area is first based on the original location searched to fill out the Show of Interest form.  Once a potential applicant completes Stage 3 of the window process (where they have settled on their location, channel and other technical parameters), we move the center of the COI to that location. 

If a COI request is received, we will then need to determine the location where the new request is and compare it to the location where the existing client is at.  This involves checking channel availability at both locations.  If it can be clearly shown that there is no conflicts between the channels available at the paid client's location and the proposed client's location, then we may permit the COI to come in.  If the subsequent request comes from near the same area as the existing client, we will only let it move forward if there are at least four available channels of similar characteristics (such as 4 channels that do not require a second-adjacent waiver).  

Based on the nature of the spectrum in the area of the existing paid client, REC has the discretion to completely block additional requests for the 24 km area in LPFM.app.  This will mean that even though a result may come back that there may be availability, LPFM.app will not accept a Show of Interest form from the subsequent requester.  

We do note that window applicants that agree to or originally intended to reach a time share agreement may mutually agree to the COI placement, and if so, will be an exception to the COI policy.  

Changes in policy for new Show of Interest forms that are currently unpaid as of July 22, 2023

For Show of Interest forms received on August 31, 2023 or prior, applicants that have made the advance payment must be at Stage 5 with the balance paid by September 30, 2023.   Paid clients not at Stage 5 by October 1, 2023 will no longer be protected under COI and subject to a $1,000 advance payment.

For Show of Interest forms received on or after September 1, 2023, the advance payment will increase to $1,000, the baseline fee for an LPFM window application with no needed add-ons.  Applicants needing a second-adjacent waiver or other chargeable add-on, must pay the balance at the end of Stage 4.  COI policies will still apply after the advance payment is made and recognized by REC.  Show of Interest requests received on or after September 1, 2023 will only be accepted from nonprofit organizations that have already been established as corporations as recognized by the state and that their corporations are in good standing with the state.  Requests will also be accepted from any state, local, district or tribal governmental entity.

On October 1, 2023 and later, no new show of interest forms will be accepted.  The Show of Interest form will be turned off.  Exceptions may be made at REC's discretion for public safety and tribal agencies and for attendees of the Grassroots Radio Conference (we note that there will be an extremely limited amount of time from the end of the GRC to the filing window period, so those who attend GRC who want REC to handle their requests must be ready to go). 

Reminder: advance payments are credited towards the total amount of the work. 

Information for existing broadcast stations

Existing LPFM and FM translator broadcast stations seeking services for filing on or before November 8, 2023 will also be subject to the COI policy.  During this time, REC will not honor any requests that would conflict with a filing window paid client (even if only at the advance payment phase).  

We also note that pursuant to FCC Rules §73.807, paragraphs (a) for LPFM stations and (c) for FM translators, any applications that are filed after the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing the LPFM window period are not subject to any protection from window applications.  The Public Notice for the filing window was released on June 22, 2023 and therefore is currently in effect.  Those who file LPFM or FM translator applications between June 22, 2023 and November 8, 2023 are not entitled to protection by LPFM applicants filing in the window, regardless of who files the application. 

After November 8, 2023, we will evaluate the new groups of mutually exclusive applications and will review each potential COI request on a case-by-case basis in order to protect our window client. 

Again, our objective is to handle as many of the requests that we receive and balance those with the needs of those clients who have already made an effort to secure services from REC.  

This public post serves as your notice of these policy updates.

We appreciate your understanding.