This News Release: Text | Word97
Statements: Joint Furchtgott-Roth & Tristani | Tristani

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Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
TTY: 202/418-2555

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

April 14, 2000

News Media contact:
David Fiske (202) 418-0513


Washington - The FCC has adopted new procedures and standards it will use to select among mutually exclusive applicants to construct new noncommercial educational (NCE) broadcast stations or to make major changes in existing facilities of such stations.

In a Report and Order, the FCC said the new process will use filing windows and a point system to select among mutually exclusive TV, FM, and FM translator applications on channels reserved for NCE use. It will be faster and less expensive than the former traditional hearing process, while continuing to foster the growth of public broadcasting as an expression of diversity and excellence. The Commission said that on channels that are not reserved for NCE use, the Commission will employ existing auction procedures to resolve application mutual exclusivity.

Under the new procedures, applicants proposing the use of a reserved channel will file their applications during "filing window" periods to be announced by public notice. The Commission will grant applications received within the window that are not mutually exclusive with other applications and that comply with Commission rules and policies in all other respects.

If the Commission receives mutually exclusive applications during a filing window, it will select the best applicants using a point system, intended to promote localism, diversity and wide availability of service. Points will be awarded as follows: (a) 3 points if the applicant is an established local entity (An applicant must be local for two years prior to application to be deemed "established."); (b) 2 points if the applicant owns no other local broadcast stations; (c) 2 points if the applicant is part of a state wide network providing service to accredited schools (This credit will be awarded only if applicant does not also claim the local ownership points.); (d) 1 to 2 points based on the technical parameters of the proposed facility.

To break ties, the Commission will select the applicant with the fewest existing stations. If that standard fails to break the tie, the Commission will select the applicant with the fewest pending applications. If these tie breakers do not result in selection of a prevailing applicant, the Commission will implement mandatory time sharing for full-service applicants. For FM translator applicants only, the final tie breaker will select the first applicant to file, similar to the existing translator-only process. The Commission will permit settlements at any time under current settlement rules which limit reimbursement to an applicant's reasonable and prudent expenses.

To ensure that the public receives the benefit of the best proposal, the Commission established a four-year holding period, during which successful applicants must maintain the characteristics for which they received points.

Prior to completing four years of on-air operations, the successful applicant may assign or transfer control of the station's license, but only to a party eligible to receive a number of points equal to or greater than the number received by the proposed assignor or transferor. Consideration can not exceed reasonable and prudent application and construction expenses.

The point system will apply to existing groups of mutually exclusive applications for reserved NCE channels, and to future applications. In a future public notice, the FCC will announce procedures for applicants to supplement their existing applications to provide point system information.

To facilitate the transition to the new application process, the Commission announced a temporary freeze on the filing of applications for new NCE stations and major changes to existing NCE stations for reserved channels. Upon release of the text of the Commission's decision, and continuing until announcement of the first NCE filing window, the Commission will not accept NCE applications for new stations and major changes unless they are filed in response to an outstanding NCE FM or FM translator cut-off list. It will continue, however, to accept applications for minor changes to existing stations on a first-come, first served basis. Any applications filed before release of the order that have not been accepted for filing and placed on a cut-off public notice will be included in the first window opened for NCE applicants in the relevant service and considered in connection with applications filed during the window.

The Commission will not use the point system for channels that are available commercially, even if one or more noncommercial organizations apply for the channel. Such applications will be resolved by auction. In reaching that conclusion, the Commission conducted an in-depth analysis of conflicting directives in the enabling statute, and of Commission policies concerning allocation and use of the reserved and non-reserved channels.

In response to public comments that a non-reserved channel may sometimes be the only one available to an educator, the Commission expanded opportunities for future applicants to request that a non-reserved channel be allocated as a reserved channel. This would apply in limited circumstances where the need for an NCE station is shown to be greater than the need for a commercial station.

Action by the Commission April 4, 2000 by Report and Order, FCC No. 00-120, Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness, and Powell, with Commissioners Furchtgott-Roth and Tristani approving in part, dissenting in part, and issuing a joint statement, and Commissioner Tristani issuing a separate statement.

- FCC -

Mass Media Contact: Irene Bleiweiss (202) 418-278