LPFM License Application Process – Frequently Asked Questions

Radio Frequently asked questionsThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will accept electronically filed low power FM (LPFM) license applications for new LPFM stations from October 15 – October 29, 2013.  To help consumers with the filing process, here are answers to some commonly asked questions.  Because these FAQs do not cover every aspect of the LPFM service, please make sure you read and understand all the rules before you apply (the link for the rules is at the end of this document). 

We strongly encourage you to review the LPFM application form and instructions before the window opens.  If you have general questions that are not covered below, please call us at 321-300-LPFM or use the contact form on this site. 

Q:  How can I tell if there is a frequency available at my desired location?

A:  Just give us a call and we’ll run a free no obligation search for you.   We’ll need your physical address or desired coordinates.

Please keep in mind that in some areas spectrum will be scarce, such as in a number of larger markets, so no frequencies may be available at your desired location.  Additionally highly congested areas may have frequencies available with a second adjacent waiver.  We can handle every aspect and type of LPFM application.

Q:  How far will the signal go?

A:  LPFM stations are limited to 100 watts and a service range of 5.6 kilometers (3.5 mile radius).  This does not mean that the station cannot be heard beyond a 3.5 miles radius.  It’s a general approximation of the expected coverage area.  On many properly built LPFM radio stations the signal may travel as far as 25 miles.

Q:  How do I apply for a license?

A:  You need to complete and electronically submit FCC Form 318 prior to the close of the LPFM filing window.  Applications are submitted through the Media Bureau’s Consolidated Database System (CDBS).  No paper applications will be accepted.  A copy of the form and instructions can be found at: lpfmradio.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/LPFM-Application.pdf.   Our firm can handle the entire process for you, with just some simple information provided by you.

Q:  What type of costs are involved?

A:  There is no application fee and no fee for the LPFM license.  However, there are construction and operating costs associated with an LPFM radio station.  The costs can vary widely depending on the type and quality of studio and broadcasting equipment used, as well as by whether a tower is required.  For an idea of how much equipment costs, click on NTIA’s Radio Station Construction Costs athttp://www.ntia.doc.gov/legacy/otiahome/ptfp/application/equipcost_Radio.html.  Our firm does charge a fee for preparing your application, consulting, working with the FCC on your behalf, etc.

Q:  Who can I contact for help?

A:  While the FCC can answer general questions such as those in this document, they do not provide consulting services.  We recommended that you get technical and legal guidance.  Give us a call at 321-300-LPFM or use the contact form on this site.

Q:  Do I need a 501(c)(3) certification as proof of my nonprofit status?

A:  No.  As long as you are organized as a nonprofit educational institution, corporation, or entity under your State’s laws, you are eligible to apply for an LPFM license.  Although some states recognize unincorporated nonprofit entities, the vast majority of LPFM licensees are incorporated through their Secretaries of State as nonprofits.  While individuals may not apply, we can set up a qualifying non-profit organization for you. 

Q:  Are there any other eligibility requirements?

A:  Yes.  You can only submit an application if you are a “local” applicant.  For most,  “local” is defined as being physically headquartered or having a campus within 10 miles of the proposed transmitter site (20 miles outside the top 50 markets), or having 75% of your board members residing within 10 miles of the proposed transmitter site (20 miles outside the top 50 markets).  See 47 C.F.R. § 73.853.

Q:  My organization already owns a full-power station.  Can we apply for an LPFM license?

A: Generally, no, you cannot apply for an LPFM license if you already own another broadcast station, including an FM translator station or low power TV station.  However, there are some exceptions, such as: (1) if you pledge in the LPFM application to divest the existing broadcast station, you can apply for a new LPFM station; (2) you can apply if you are an accredited school that has a non-student-runfull power broadcast station  as long as the LPFM station will be managed and operated by studentsof your accredited school (the accredited school will not have to divest its non-student-runfull power broadcast station); and (3)  you can own up to two FM translator stations under certain conditions as noted in 47 C.F.R. § 73.860(b)).

Q: What if my organization is a local chapter of a larger, national organization and the national organization already owns a broadcast station.  Can the local chapter apply for an LPFM license?

A:  Yes, but only if the chapter is separately incorporated and has a distinct local presence and mission.
Q:  Can my organization file multiple LPFM applications?

A:  No, with two exceptions.  A Tribal applicant can file up to two LPFM applications, while a nonprofit/governmental entity with a public safety purpose has no restrictions on the number of applications it can file.

Q:  When will my application be approved?

A:  After the filing window closes, if your application does not conflict with other window filings and meets all other domestic and international requirements, it will be processed within a few months of when it was filed. 

If your application does conflict with other applications, it will be processed as outlined in the FCC’s rules.  It is impossible to provide a timeframe for processing conflicting applications until sometime after the close of the window.  Timing will depend on a number of factors such as:  the number of applications filed; the number of applications that conflict with other window filings; the extent to which applicants take advantage of settlement and amendment opportunities; applicant resolution of any environmental, other siting and grantability issues; international coordination (if applicable); and other factors.

As we mentioned before, you are strongly encouraged to submit your application early in the filing window.  Applications not successfully filed prior to the close of the window will NOT be considered. 

Q:  How will the Commission resolve conflicting applications?

A:  If you have a conflicting application, you will have an opportunity to propose a settlement.  If you don’t propose a settlement, the Bureau will use a point system to select among the conflicting applications.  The applicant with the highest number of points will be the selectee.  One point each for the following factors can be claimed, up to a maximum number of six, if you:  (1) have an established community presence of at least two years; (2) pledge to originate locally at least eight hours of programming per day; (3) pledge to maintain a publicly accessible main studio that has local program origination capability; (4) can certify that you qualify for a point under both the local program origination and the main studio criteria; (5) can certify that neither you nor any party to your application has an attributable interest in another broadcast station; and (6) you are a Tribal Applicant proposing to locate your transmitting antenna site on your Tribal Lands.

In cases where the point system results in a tie, you will have an opportunity to enter into voluntary time-share agreements, otherwise the Bureau will determine the hours of operation for each selectee in the group.  See 47 C.F.R. § 73.872.