01.26.2006 12:00 AM
FCC Clarifies Microwave License Termination Policy

A previous RF Report mentioned an article by SBE General Counsel Chris Imlay which warned stations to file notices of completion for broadcast auxiliary links before the FCC started terminating them. Chris Imlay's article flagged the confusion over how this applied to broadcast licenses.

On Jan. 23, the FCC clarified how deployment of "Auto-Term" would affect licenses registered in its Universal Licensing System (ULS). In the Public Notice Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Announces Deployment of 'Auto-Term,' the Automated Feature in its Universal Licensing System That Identifies Unconstructed Stations Resulting in Automatic Termination of Licenses, the FCC made it clear that licenses would not be terminated without prior notification and that only the new or modified license, location or frequency would be terminated. It appears that modified licenses would revert to the facilities authorized in the previous authorization, although as Imlay noted, information on original facilities is not always visible in ULS.

The FCC Notice stated that in the absence of a timely filed notice of construction or request for extension of the authorization, the presumption would be made that construction had not or was not taking place. As Imlay pointed out, the FCC said this rule does apply to Broadcast Auxiliary authorizations. If a notice of timely completion hasn't been filed by the deadline in ULS, the FCC will list the license, location or frequency affected as "Termination Pending" and generate a weekly public notice listing the applications to be terminated after 30 days. An automated letter would also be sent to the licensee.

An applicant whose license is listed in this public notice of pending termination can file a petition for reconsideration showing that in fact it has met its construction or coverage requirements in a timely manner. If the FCC grants the petition, the status of the license, location or frequency will be changed from "Termination Pending" to "Active."

A licensee won't be allowed to amend any licenses, locations or frequencies with "Termination Pending" status. If the license is active but some components show "Termination Pending," any application will be processed only with regard to the active components. The applicant will see a warning that one or more components have "Termination Pending" status.

Licenses with "Termination Pending" can be identified by a TP icon appearing next to the call sign in the search results page for any license in ULS.

The Public Notice makes it clear that for site-based licenses (i.e. broadcast auxiliary fixed links), the status applies to components of the license, not the entire license. The Public Notice explains, "for example, if one of four frequencies is placed in Termination Pending status and the remaining frequencies on the license are active, the TP icon appears on the Frequency Page of the License Search next to the frequency in Termination Pending status. If all four frequencies are in Termination Pending status, the TP icon appears next to each frequency."

For additional information, be sure to read the FCC Public Notice Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Announces Deployment of 'Auto-Term,' the Automated Feature in its Universal Licensing System That Identifies Unconstructed Stations Resulting in Automatic Termination of Licenses and the updated version of Chris Imlay's article Avoid Automatic Termination of Broadcast Auxiliary Licenses on 2/1/06. After describing some of the clarified procedures, Imlay warns, "Apparently, however, there have been differing opinions by FCC staff expressed to others. Do not rely on this to preserve your BAS license!+ The most conservative approach is to file a notice of timely completion if the station was indeed constructed in the allowed time frame, even if the FCC doesn't flag it as "Termination Pending".

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