FCC announces LPFM MX Groups - REC escalates issue regarding time sharing to Media Bureau

On March 15, 2024, through public notice, the FCC Media Bureau identified LPFM applications that were mutually exclusive (MX) and assigned them to specific group numbers.  The Bureau also opened a 60 day period in which settlements can be made.  This settlement window will close on May 14, 2024.  According to the notice, the FCC will accept settlement agreements that are universal (involving all applicants) and agreed upon by all applicants.  These settlement agreements can include applicants requesting their applications withdrawn or modified through minor changes (such as moves of up to 11.2 km and/or channel changes of 1, 2, 3, 53 or 54 channels).  Compensation/consideration is permitted and is limited to legitimate and prudent expenses, which at this stage, would be mainly the fees paid to consultants in connection with application preparation and related technical studies.  All such agreements submitted to the Bureau must include:

  • A copy of the settlement agreement and any ancillary agreement(s);
  • A joint request for approval of such agreement; and
  • An affidavit of each party to the agreement setting forth:
    • The reasons why such agreement is in the public interest;
    • A statement that its application was not filed for the purpose of reaching or carrying out such agreement;
    • A certification that neither the applicant nor its principals has received any money or other consideration in excess of the legitimate and prudent expenses of the applicant;
    • The exact nature and amount of any consideration paid or promised;
    • An itemized accounting of the expenses for which it seeks reimbursementl; and
    • The terms of any oral agreement relating to the dismissal or withdrawal of its application.

For unilateral amendments such as site/channel changes or voluntary withdrawals where the other MX Group members are not involved, applicants must also include an affidavit as to whether or not consideration has been promised or received by such applicant in connection with their change or withdrawal.  

We do note that REC does have issues with some statements made in the March 15, 2024 public notice in respect to time share agreements.  This public notice stated that time share agreements will not be accepted at this time, even if those time share agreements are universal and no point aggregation is needed.  This is a complete departure from the 2013 policy and was not changed in 2019 with the adoption of MB Docket 19-3.  REC has escalated these issues to the Media Bureau. 

Keep in mind at this time, the FCC has not announced the number of points each applicant has.  Points will be announced in a future points public notice that will be specific to each MX Group (one notice will have mutliple, but not all groups in it).  At that time, partial settlement agreements involving point aggregation can take place.  

REC will keep LPFM applicants informed of any developments in our escalation and any resulting changes in an update to Advisory Letter #10 and through other REC channels.