Monday, October 26, 2020

Native American Tribes Receive First Opportunity to Obtain Certain Commercial FM Stations

January 24, 2012 by admin  
Filed under FCC News

In late 2011, The Federal Communications Commission created a short-cut for Tribes seeking to obtain new commercial FM stations to serve Tribal Lands. The new approach is designed to assure Tribal applicants the first opportunity to apply for such stations, free from competition from non-Tribal applicants.

After a Tribal Allotment – i.e., a channel allotted pursuant to a Tribal Priority – is made, the FCC will open a Threshold Qualifications (TQ) Window. During the TQ Window, any Tribe or Tribally-controlled entity can apply for the allotment. The applicant would have to satisfy the Tribal Priority factors underlying that particular Tribal Allotment. The relevant factors are numerous:

  • The applicant is either a federally recognized Tribe or Tribal consortium, or an entity owned or controlled 51% or more by a Tribe or Tribes.
  • At least a portion of Tribal lands within the proposed city-grade (70 dBu) contour must be those of the Tribe or Tribes holding at least 51% ownership or control of the applicant.
  • At least 50% of the area within the proposed city-grade contour is Tribal Land of the applicant Tribe or, alternatively, the city-grade contour (a) covers 50% or more the applicant’s Tribal Lands, (b) serves at least 2,000 people living on Tribal Lands, and (c) the population on Tribal Lands within the proposed 60 dBu (yes, the 60 dBu) contour constitutes at least 50% of the total population covered.
  • The proposed station’s city-grade contour does not cover 50% or more of the Tribal Lands of a Tribe that is not a party to the application.
  • The proposed community of license is located on Tribal Lands.
  • The proposed station constitutes a first or second reception service or a first local Tribe-owned commercial station at the proposed community of license.

The new process allows non-Tribal parties to partner with qualifying Tribes to go after new FM allotments – provided that the qualifying Tribe or Tribal consortium retains 51% ownership or control of the applicant entity.

The new process will take affect after OMB approval pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act.