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FCC Adopts New Procedures For FM Allotments

January 17, 2011: The FCC has rescinded its earlier allocation of an FM frequency to Morrisonville, NY, from Keeseville, NY, granting in part a proposal from Hall Communications, and in the process made a change to the way it handles vacant FM allotments.

Back in 2004, the FCC made an FM allotment of channel 231A to Keeseville, denying a competing proposal by Nassau Broadcasting. Nassau filed a petition for rulemaking requesting several reallotments, including a change of 231A from Keeseville to Morrisonville. That was granted, and Hall then filed a counterproposal that included a request to reallot another channel to Morrisonville. The counterproposal was denied, and Hall then filed an application for review.

After review, the FCC has granted Hall's application -- but only to the extent of rescinding the reallotment of channel 231A and returning it to Keeseville, agreeing with Hall's assertion that its previous order was inconsistent with existing FCC case law and saying Nassau did not provide a "compelling reason" for the move to Morrisonville, and that 231A has not yet been subject to the auction process.

With the order, the FCC is also making a change in its procedures for FM allotments "to more accurately reflect the current demand for FM spectrum and the distribution of licenses through competitive bidding at auction." The agency will no longer consider individual requests for reallotments, class downgrades, or deletions of vacant allotments outside of the auction process. From now on, aside from same-class channel substitutions, vacant FM allotments will be awarded through auction.

The commission plans to assign "substantially all" vacant FM allotments in a series of auctions over the next few years, and said allowing modifications and deletions outside the process is "disruptive to the orderly auctioning of this spectrum, wastes limited staff resources, and undermines the finality of the actions adopting the initial allotments." Parties with competing proposals will now have to submit those proposals as part of the auction process.

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