In Re Standard Broadcast APPLICATION FOR MAJOR AND MINOR CHANGES
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
23 F.C.C.2d 811;
RELEASE-NUMBER: FCC 70-260
April 14, 1970
THE COMMISSION BY COMMISSIONERS BURCH (CHAIRMAN), BARTLEY, ROBERT E. LEE, COX, H. REX LEE AND WELLS WITH COMMISSIONER JOHNSON CONCURRING IN PART AND DISSENTING IN PART WITH STATEMENT, ISSUES THE FOLLOWING PUBLIC NOTICE.
[*811] Applications for changes in standard broadcast facilities are, as in the other broadcast services, classified in the rules as either "major" or "minor". The same distinction is drawn in Section 309 of the Communications Act, which prescribes a 30-day holding period for major change applications and for the filing of petitions to deny such applications by any party in interest. Moreover, major change applicants must, for example, submit proof of publication and, in many situations, are responsible for completing the programming portions of application forms on the basis of ascertainment of community problems. These requirements generally do not apply to minor change applicants.
Section 1.571(a)(1) of our rules defines major change applications as those involving changes in frequency, power, hours of operation, and station location. This section further provides that applications [**2] for other types of changes may, upon notification to the applicant, be treated as major change applications. In the past, most applications treated as major under this proviso have been proposals to change the radiation pattern. Other types of applications (notably for changes in transmitter site, antenna height, and MEOV's) have been consistently classified as minor.
Pattern change applications have previously been classified as major or minor on an ad hoc basis. With the advent of the AM application "freeze", these determinations have become crucial. Because of interference and city coverage constraints in the AM band, the magnitude of change resulting from applications of this type is characteristically small, irrespective of how they are classified.
After careful review of this matter, we have concluded that henceforth applications for changes in AM radiation patterns, including those for change from directional to non-directional operation and vice versa, will usually be considered as minor change proposals, unless associated with changes in frequency, power, hours of operation, or station location. In addition, and in keeping with the original intent [*812] of Section 1.571 [**3] of the rules, applications for changes in hours of operation not involving new nighttime propagation studies will also be considered as minor change proposals.
It is recognized that proposed changes in site or radiation pattern might, in rare instances, involve a combination of factors which would prompt us to treat them as major change applications rather than minor change applications. We feel that the public interest requires that our present discretion be preserved in this regard. For this reason, the proviso language appearing in Section 1.571(a)(1) has been retained. *These changes will align AM application procedures more closely with those followed in the FM and TV broadcast services and will, it is believed, dispel much of present uncertainty as to the treatment of specific applications.
Action by the Commission March 11, 1970. Commissioners Burch (Chairman), Bartley, Robert E. Lee, Cox, H. Rex Lee and Wells with Commissioner Johnson concurring in part and dissenting in part with statement to be issued later.
DISSENTBY: JOHNSON (IN PART)
SEPARATE OPINION OF COMMISSIONER NICHOLAS JOHNSON CONCURRING IN PART, DISSENTING IN PART
The Commission's action here is [**4] a minor one: Certain types of applications for changes in AM radio operation will henceforth be considered "minor" in nature and therefore entitled to different and expedited procedural treatment. The result will be that most of the work in this area will be processed by the Commission staff and decisions made by delegated authority.
I thoroughly agree with the Commission's action insofar as it simplifies processing routines. I believe that at least half of the matters now regularly on the Commissioners' agenda could appropriately be handled at the staff level. However, important ingredients in any system of delegated authority must be comprehensive and exact policy guidelines, so that those who must make the decisions have known standards upon which to base their actions. In addition, top policymakers must have management reporting techniques which can provide a quick review of actions being taken in their names by subordinates. These are necessary components of a well-run organization, in order to make matters easier for our staff, to insure that the interests of the public are being protected, and to simplify matters and provide greater equity for those who come to the Commission [**5] seeking action.
This action does not include guidelines which the staff will be expected to follow in exercising its delegated authority. And at present there is no systematic reporting system for actions taken under delegated authority; we read about them in the same press releases that are made available to the public. I believe the Commission has been remiss in failing to improve its internal management; we should reconsider our entire program of using delegated authority. Therefore, I concur with this delegation to the staff, but I dissent to the absence of guidelines and a reporting system. Without either, this delegation becomes simply an abdication.