17-264: Advice for LPFM stations with commonly-owned FM translators or FM boosters.

The FCC recently adopted the Second Report and Order in MB Docket 17-264 which makes substantial changes to the rules related to public notices that broadcast applicants must make in accordance with Section 311(a) of the Communications Act.   For FM translator and FM booster licenses, this normally involved taking out advertising in the newspaper.  The FCC has now realized that in this modern era, requiring broadcast stations to purchase advertising is burdensome and archaic.  As a result, the FCC has moved the medium of communication for these Congressionally mandated public notice messages to online systems and for non-commercial full-service and LPFM stations that are on the air, over the air announcements.

Public notices are done for the following application types:

  • Original construction permit applications for a new station, or major changes to previously filed, but ungranted applications.  (i.e. adding a new booster to an LPFM station, filing for a new translator during a window).
  • A "major change" in facilities filed during a window that permits such major changes.
  • Applications for renewal of license. (including the translator/booster in the LPFM over-the-air announcement will not suffice for meeting the requirement, the website must be used) 
  • Applications for an assignment of license or transfer of control that requires the filing of forms 314 or 315. (Board member changes for the same organization that can be done on Form 316 do not require public notice).
  • Full-service station changes in community of license.

Public notices are not required for:

  • Minor changes in authorized facilities.
  • Transfer of control involving changes within the existing licensed entity that can be done on Form 316.
  • A license to cover application or modification of license.
  • Extension of time to complete construction of authorized facilities.
  • Applications for auxiliary broadcast services such as studio to transmitter (STL) links and remote pick up units (RPU). 

For your primary LPFM station, all public notices are done through over-the-air messages except when the station is off the air or not yet on the air, then the notice must be posted online at the station's website, the applicant/licensee's website or the applicant/licensee's parent corporation website. 

FM translators and FM boosters, regardless whether they are for commercial or noncommercial operations like LPFM, do not have the same requirements as a full service or LPFM noncommercial station.  Instead, translators and boosters use online notices.  

According to the Commission's revision to §73.3580 of the rules, each licensee that is required to do public notices online must place a link on their website that reads "FCC Applications" and must direct to a separate page on the site for public notices.  If there are no public notices in effect (which will be most of the time), that separate page should have a message that reads something like "There are no public notices at this time.".  The "FCC Applications" link must be seen when the main home page is brought up without the need to click on a menu or link to another page in order to view on the link to the "FCC Applications".  This means it could be a selection on the webpage's top menu bar (if there is one) or a link in the footer of the website.  Full service stations already follow similar rules for links to the public file and links to contest rules.

A sample online public notice would look something like this:

On May 14, 2020, Light Bulb Powered Radio, licensee of KREC-LP-FM1, Tempe, Arizona has filed an application with the Federal Communications Commission for renewal of license.  Members of the public wishing to view this application or obtain information on how to file comments and petitions on the application can visit [link to the application in LMS or CDBS].  

Online notices must go up within 5 days of the application being accepted for filing as published in the FCC's daily Applications or Broadcast Applications public notices.  The online message must run for 30 consecutive days.  The online message does not absolve the LPFM station from running over the air messages for their primary station.

This requirement is currently not in effect, however, we wanted to give LPFMs that also have "non-LPFM" facilities a head's-up to give them notice on changes that will need to be made to station or organization websites.  If the LPFM station has a translator that is not licensed to the LPFM organization, that organizaiton must place the public notice on a website that their organization operates.  If the station or organization does not have a website, then notice must be made on a locally targeted website such as the local government, local chamber of commerce or community bulletin board website.  

REC expects the new rule to become effective as soon as mid-July, 2020.  Therefore, you should prepare now. 

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please contact REC for more information. 

For more infromation on the public notice process for the primary LPFM station visit REC's LPFM Public Notice Information page.