FCC Clarifies That Tech Box Information in Radio Station Applications Must Be Accurate and Correct in All Respects

The Federal Communications Commission has clarified its policy regarding inconsistencies in the specification of antenna sites in radio station applications and reminded applicants of their obligation to provide accurate information regarding the location coordinates of a proposed antenna site in applications filed with the FCC. Commission staff will review such information in FCC Form 301, 318, or 340 applications based solely on the coordinates provided by the applicant in response to the specific application question calling for tower location, without reference to any other information (such as the antenna structure registration number of an existing tower) submitted in the application.

This clarification was announced in a Memorandum Opinion and Order released by the Commission on December 11, 2014 (available here), which reversed decisions of the Media Bureau that dismissed applications for four new noncommercial educational FM radio stations in which each applicant specified incorrect coordinates in the Tech Box of its application. However, the Tech Box responses in each application also identified a valid antenna structure registration number of an existing tower as the location of the proposed facility. The Media Bureau denied the applications because any amendment to correct the typographical error made in the initial site to the actual location of the existing tower would have been an impermissible “major change” given the difference between the coordinates. The Commission determined that it is not the duty of FCC staff to resolve discrepancies caused by typographical or other applicant errors, but also acknowledged a number of prior cases where applications were granted because other technical data provided in the application allowed the staff to determine the correct tower coordinates. As a result of this conflicting precedent, the Commission reinstated these four applications to pending status and announced its new policy with respect to applications filed in the future, overruling all prior cases to the contrary.

Specifically, the antenna location coordinates specified in Item 3 of the FCC Form 340 Tech Box, Item 2 of the FCC Form 318 Tech Box, and the Tech Boxes of FCC Form 301, or their equivalents in future form revisions, must now be set forth accurately in all applications. The Commission directed Media Bureau staff to make any technical and legal evaluations of, and take any action regarding such applications based on the stated antenna location coordinates specified without regard to any other data in the Tech Box or elsewhere in the application or attachments. Where appropriate, Media Bureau staff may now dismiss defective applications and refuse to accept amendments that would conflict with other rule-compliant applications submitted in a filing window.

As always, but especially in light of this decision, applicants should carefully check the information supplied in FCC applications to ensure its accuracy.

If you have any questions about the Commission’s new policy or the information required in the completion of an application including a Tech Box, please contact any of the attorneys in our office.

Categories: Media