In a case decided last week, the FCC decided to clarify its policies on typos in FCC applications for radio stations. While one might not think that a typo is such a big idea, in connection with FCC application filing windows, when multiple applicants may be seeking the same frequency or channel in the same general location, and only one application can be granted, it can be crucially important. The decision cites numerous cases where applicants typed in one set of coordinates, and those coordinates were different than what could be derived from information elsewhere in the application (e.g. from the coordinates of ASR for the registered tower on which the applicant planned to locate its antenna). To clarify its policies, the Commission stated that, in the future, any typo in site coordinates in the “Tech Box” of an application would be given full effect, even if the correct coordinates could be discerned from other information in the application if the correction of the coordinates would prejudice any other application by another applicant. So, where there are mutually exclusive applications for the same channel, and one has a typo in its Tech Box listing coordinates that would place the proposed stations in a location that would not work for the given channel (or would be less favorable in a comparative analysis), the typo will cause that applicant to be dismissed.
This decision was made in the context of a number of applications for new noncommercial FM stations filed in the last noncommercial FM window. While in this case, the FCC reinstated the applications with typos as its policy on typos had been ambiguous, it made clear that the applicants would not be treated so leniently in the future. The Commission also made clear that this policy would apply to any radio application using FCC Form 301 (the construction permit application for commercial FM stations), Form 318 (application for construction permit for LPFM stations), or Form 340 (application for construction permit for noncommercial FM stations). Specifically, the Commission will rely on the antenna location coordinates specified in Item 3 of the FCC Form 340 Tech Box for NCE stations, in Item 2 of the FCC Form 318 Tech Box for LPFM, and in the Tech Boxes of FCC Form 301 for full-power commercial stations (for AM: Section III, Item 4b for daytime coordinates, Item 5b for nighttime coordinates, and Item 6b for critical hours coordinates; for FM: Section III-B, Item 3 for antenna location coordinates and Item 4 for proposed allotment or assignment coordinates). The information in these application sections (or in any equivalent form adopted in the future) must be accurate, as that will be the information on which the FCC relies to process the application no matter what may be stated elsewhere in the application. So be careful in completing your applications, or your application may face the consequences.