FCC Clarifies that Temporarily Constructed Facilities Are Insufficient for License Applications

Two decisions by the FCC Media Bureau have clarified that temporary facilities, or other facilities constructed to operate just long enough to allow a permittee to file a license application before an underlying construction permit expires, are not sufficient to justify the grant of the license application and may subject a permittee to automatic forfeiture of a construction permit.

In the first decision, a noncommercial educational construction permit holder admitted, upon questioning by the FCC, that it had constructed facilities that were not in accordance with the terms of its construction permit. The antenna was not mounted to a permanent tower as specified, and the permittee had not received permission from the landlord to build or operate at the specified site. The Media Bureau found that the construction permit had expired by operation of law and been forfeited, both because of the nonconforming construction, and, in the alternative, because the constructed facilities were of a temporary nature. The Media Bureau stated that constructed facilities must “endure beyond the de minimis period necessary . . . to file a license application” and be “ready for operation.” The Bureau cautioned that “[l]icensing a facility which is dismantled shortly after a license application is filed or which is constructed without the site owner’s permission or knowledge, is fundamentally inconsistent with th[e] licensing principle.”

In the second case, the Media Bureau clarified that if a permittee dismantles a station’s facilities or otherwise takes a station off the air while a license application is pending, the permittee is required under Section 1.65 of the Commission’s rules to promptly notify the FCC. Failure to notify the FCC of such actions could subject an applicant to issues regarding lack of candor.

If you would like further information about these decisions, or about the FCC’s general permitting and licensing processes, contact any attorney in this office.

Categories: Media