Originally posted on the Broadcast Law Blog.
Despite rules that generally prohibit the assignment or transfer of a low power FM (LPFM) authorization, the FCC today granted a waiver of its rules and allowed Shenandoah County (Virginia) Public Schools (SCPS) to assign an unbuilt LPFM construction permit to Christian Leadership Ministries (CLM). This action comes on the heels of a Congressional push to authorize more LPFM stations and may signal a loosening of restrictions pertaining to LPFM stations generally. In today's decision, the FCC stated that the assignment would "advance the goal of maximizing spectrum use for the LPFM service," since CLM committed to complete construction and commence on-air operation. Furthermore, the $1000 consideration paid by CLM was less than the costs incurred by SCPS for the engineering consultant who prepared its initial application, so the parties could certify that SCPS would not profit from this transaction. Based on these factors, and the fact that the buyer was otherwise to qualified to hold an LPFM license under applicable FCC rules as it was a nonprofit and local entity, the FCC granted the waiver and approved the transaction.
The Commission mentioned in a footnote that "[n]o LPFM filing window is currently scheduled to take place." One can only wonder whether allowing assignments of unbuilt LPFM permits may be a backdoor means of placating those who are clamoring for more LPFM stations until such time as the FCC opens another window.