FCC Stops Processing Applications By "Eligible Entities" - No Extensions of Unbuilt CPs When Sold to a Small Business


The recent decision of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals which overturned the FCC's 2007 rulings on newspaper-broadcast cross ownership and on diversity initiatives, took an unexpected turn today. The FCC issued a Public Notice announcing that it would immediately stop giving "Eligible Entities" an advantage in certain instances - most particularly the extension of construction permits for new stations that are close to their expiration dates. In the FCC's 2007 Diversity Order, the Commission, to encourage more diversity in broadcast ownership, allowed "eligible entities", i.e. small businesses under SBA definitions, to acquire construction permits for new stations that were close to expiration, and to get an additional 18 months in which to construct the station. In most other circumstances, the FCC will not extend a construction permit (absent some limited "tolling events" that will give applicants a limited amount of time to construct - but just the amount of time that a limited unforeseen event takes out of the usual 3 year construction period). The 18 month extensions given to Eligible Entities have become an important way of saving construction permits about to expire when the original permit holder could not complete construction in the given 3 year construction period.

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