In this week’s issue… LPFM apps emerge from FCC lockdown – Losing an important radio, tower owner – New country in NH – Sale in northern Maine
By SCOTT FYBUSH
*As we wind things down for the year, we have one of the two big stories we promised you last week: while we await the financial fate of Audacy, still being dragged out by extensions from its lenders, we almost had to go to our Sunday-night NERW deadline without the other story we expected.
Never fear, NERW subscribers – we’ve put together an initial list of all the applications in NERW-land, just below the fold for you. As we’d have expected from the two prior LPFM windows in 2000 and 2013, there’s a mix of religious groups (including a big cluster of new Catholic applications in Vermont, all from the same consulting firm), legitimate community groups (including a surprising number of local cable access channels looking to expand to radio), a handful of schools and towns, and of course a decent number of not-quite-legitimate applications, including one on a frequency (87.7) that’s not even available for LPFM use.
The FCC tried hard this time to eliminate some of the abuses in previous windows: as in the past, there’s a strict one-application-to-a-party limit, which we expect will be tested by some application groups that seem to have been churned out by national parties with sketchy local front organizations. (There’s also a pile of more than 200 applications, mostly in the south, that were literally all filed by the same group – and which will be summarily tossed, we expect.)
What happens now? At some point in the next few weeks, the FCC will begin dismissing ungrantable applications, as well as issuing an official list of MX (“mutually exclusive”) groups of applications, which will then go through the Commission’s point system to determine which applicants get priority based on established local presence and a commitment to local programming. And then? Sometime early in 2024, we’ll have somewhere between 80-100 new LPFM construction permits in the region, with three years to get built.
(One more program note before we continue: NERW will take a holiday break next week, Dec. 25, and on Jan. 1, 2024. We may do a rudimentary 2023 Year in Review sometime in between, and we’ll be back with regular columns January 8, 2024, unless there’s major news over the holidays.)
FEBRUARY IS ALMOST GONE
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