A new filing window for new noncommercial FM radio stations in the reserved FM band (88.1 – 92.1 FM) is in finally in the works! The window could happen in late 2020 but is more likely to happen early 2021.
Chairman Pai this month responded to a Congressional inquiry about the next window for new LPFM stations. In his letter he stated that the LPFM window would follow a window for new noncommercial FM stations, since noncommercial applicants have not had an opportunity to file for new stations in over a decade. The letter stated that the NCE window will open after the recently adopted changes in the rules for processing these noncommercial applications become effective. The changes are waiting for Paperwork Reduction Act review before they can become effective.
The 2010 window for NCE applications was for a limited number of commercial frequencies that had been set aside and reserved for noncommercial use where the reserved band had constraints. The last window for reserved band FM stations (88.1 to 91.9 FM) opened in 2007.
There could again be a similar requirement in any new window. Stations in the reserved band can be located where no interference is created to an existing FM station. These type of applications are more complicated than those for LPFM. Start your planning now as the analysis as to where a new station can be located can be very time consuming.