New commissioners named


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The White House announced that President Bush will send to the Senate the names of Kevin J. Martin, Kathleen Q. Abernathy, and Michael J. Copps, three long-time Washington insiders, to fill FCC vacancies. In addition, Andrew Levin, telecommunications counsel to the House Commerce Committee, is likely to be nominated by the White House to replace Commissioner Gloria Tristani, who has indicated she will leave by the year's end.

Martin, a Republican, was legal adviser to outgoing Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth. He is currently the Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. He also was Deputy General Counsel for the Bush-for-President Committee. Martin will be nominated for a five-year term expiring in June 2006.

Abernathy, also a Republican, is a lawyer who worked in private practice and at the Commission before taking positions in the wireless industry. Most recently, she was Vice President for Public Policy of BroadBand Office Communications; she was formerly Vice President for Regulatory Affairs for AirTouch Communications. While at the FCC, Abernathy was a legal advisor to Commissioner Sherry Marshall and Chairman Jim Quello. Abernathy's term will expire on June 30, 2005.

Copps, who will fill the open Democratic seat, has spent 15 years in the office of Senator Fritz Hollings in a number of positions, including Chief of Staff. Most recently, he served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Development and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Basic Industries.

It is anticipated that Martin, Abernathy and Copps will be confirmed by the end of June.

Third-adjacent channel LPFM restriction added

At the direction of Congress, the FCC has adopted low-power FM station third-adjacent channel interference protection standards. Although the Commission's original LPFM rules specified co-, first-, and second-adjacent channel spacings between LPFM stations and full-power FM and FM translator stations, and co- and first-adjacent channel spacings between LPFM stations, they did not include standards to protect either full-power or LPFM stations operating on third-adjacent channels. Congress enacted legislation last December requiring the Commission to revise its rules to include such standards.

As a result, 653 otherwise technically acceptable LPFM applications filed during the two LPFM windows last year have become short-spaced to existing full power FM and/or FM translator stations operating on third-adjacent channels. The Commission will allow these stations to file minor technical amendments to move up to two kilometers to bring their applications into compliance with the new rules. These curative minor amendments were to be filed in May.

The Commission simultaneously opened its last two LP100 filing windows for LPFM applications in the states and territories not included in the earlier LP100 windows. The window closed June 15. Applicants from the earlier windows that have third-adjacent channel short spacings of two or more kilometers, and therefore are ineligible to file curative minor amendments, will be afforded an additional later window within which to file major amendments that specify technical facilities that meet the new spacing requirements.

The revised rules also eliminate the portions of the Commission's rules that permitted LPFM applications from pirate radio station operators that had either (1) voluntarily ceased unlicensed operation of a station no later than February 26, 1999 or (2) ceased operation within 24 hours of being directed by the FCC to terminate unlicensed operation. Under the revised rules, an LPFM license will not be granted to any party who engaged in any manner, either individually or with a group, in the unlicensed operation of any station in violation of the Commission's rules.

Jailed licensee fined by FCC

The FCC recently determined that the licensee of a broadcast station could no longer be legally in charge of day-to-day operations of the station while incarcerated at the state penitentiary. The FCC levied an $8,000 fine against the licensee for effectively transferring the station before going to jail. This unauthorized transfer resulted from the licensee entering into a management agreement which delegated virtually all decision-making authority over the station's programming, staff and finances as to a non-owner. Although the licensee claimed he was still operating the station from jail, the FCC stated that imprisonment takes away one's role in station operations. The licensee is serving time for insurance fraud.


Harry Martin is an attorney with Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, PLC., Arlington, VA. E-mail martin@fhh-telcomlaw.com.

Dateline

All radio stations in the following states, both commercial and noncommercial, must file their biennial ownership reports on or before August 1: California, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

July 10 is the deadline for placing in stations' public files their quarterly lists of community problems and responsive programming broadcast during the period May 1 to July 31.



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