FCC offers 67 spare local FM frequencies for noncomm use

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For a week in February (Feb. 19-26), the FCC will offer 67 local FM frequencies assigned to specific cities and towns. The commission postponed the filing window from December on the request of public media groups seeking more time to prepare. (Original announcement.) Though the frequencies will be reserved for noncommercial use, they remain unused in the commercial FM band — that is, above 92.1 MHz. The places on the list were chosen because at least 10 percent of their population now have access to no more than one noncomm radio service. The FCC will use a point system giving preference to local applicants with local boards and to those who don’t hold other licenses. These are mostly small cities and towns; among the larger or better known are Terre Haute, Ind., and Bozeman, Mont. Though the list includes Amherst and Canton, the FCC refers to Amherst, N.Y. (not Massachusetts) and Canton, Ill. (not Ohio). Five are in Indiana and five in Illinois. Most of the channels are designated for Class A, the weakest category of full-power FM stations, with transmitter power limited to 6 kilowatts. To coordinate with this FCC window, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration will extend its annual deadline for related equipment grant applications until Feb. 26.