The Prometheus Radio Project has petitioned the Federal Communications Commission to issue an emergency partial stay regarding the Commission’s plan to make a change in the rules that, instead of limiting FM translators to the areas where their 1 mv/m contour does not extend beyond the lesser of the AM station’s 2 mv/m contour or a circle 25 miles from the AM station, the translator can operate in any area where its contour does not extend the 1 mv/m beyond the greater of the 2 mv/m contour or 25 mile circle.
That new rule goes into effect Monday and it’s also expected to be followed by a new translator filing window later this year which could add hundreds, if not thousands, of additional FM translators into the American landscape. And Promtheus says those additional translators will be at the expense of LPFM radio stations. “The premature grant of new translator applications will cause immediate and irreparable harm to many of the Low Power FM licensees Prometheus has advised and assisted and to their listeners, whose rights are “paramount” under the First Amendment.”
Prometheus tells the FCC that incumbent LPFM stations will be severely limited in seeking to relocate within their communities of service because these new FM translators will box in or short-space them. “If, as is frequently the case, LPFM licensees lose their transmitter location and must relocate, they will be forced to shut down or to relocate to a distance that could preclude them from reaching their established community audience.”
Prometheus says it will be able to demonstrate that there is a very substantial likelihood of success because the Order was adopted in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act and is arbitrary and capricious. “The Order’s elimination of a set distance limitation for locating FM translators was not a logical outgrowth of the Commission’s Further Notice for Proposed Rulemaking which proposed only a modest modification of the distance limitation. The Order is also arbitrary and capricious because it does not address, much less resolve the question of the adverse impact that the Order will have on LPFM and its inconsistency with the goals of the Local Community Radio Act, and incorrectly equates commercial AM radio service with community-based non-commercial radio.
Prometheus also says history is on their side. “There is strong and highly relevant precedent for grant of a stay under these circumstances. During the period when the Commission was first implementing the LPFM services, the pendency of thousands of translator applications filed in a 2003 filing window threatened to thwart the prospects of LPFM. To address this problem, the Commission imposed a freeze on the grant of translator applications while it assessed the circumstances and fashioned an appropriate remedy. Similar action is needed here.”
Read the entire Prometheus filing with the FCC HERE