Could Your Station have or add an FM Frequency? LPFM & Translator Report
Posted by Will R
The news from the FCC for those stations looking to begin broadcasting on an FM frequency or to use a previously applied translator application became clearer last month when the FCC issued its decision on how to proceed with the processing the 2003 translator applications and prospective LPFM applications.
The 2003 filing window for translators resulted in approximately 6,000 unprocessed applications for FM translators (which are essentially transmitters that rebroadcast an existing station). The result of the FCC decision is that a huge portion of those applications will be dismissed due to numerical and technical limitations placed on the 2003 applicants. For those that have outstanding translator applications from the 2003 window, you will need to consult with an engineer and/or a qualified attorney to determine which, if any of your old applications are still viable and you need to do this quickly as the window to indicate your preference and ability to comply with the new regulations closes on 1/25/13.
For stations looking to start broadcasting, there is a “gold rush” about to start.
Much has changed since 2003 with respect to what is considered a “real” station. Webcasting has provided legitimacy to many stations. Apps and the ability to hear stations via means than traditional FM frequencies has provided a means and a more meaningful level of existence to many student organizations. These changes have also provided student organizations a means to start a new station without facing obstacles such as a lack of an available frequency and the costs associated with a transmitter and the associated equipment and other expenses. However, the prospect of an LPFM license has kept the “dream” of an FM license alive for many student organizations that would have otherwise prevented your station from obtaining an FM license. The FCC act makes the “dream” a very realistic outcome for many student organizations if they act now.
Why do you need to act now?
The FCC has announced that it will begin accepting LPFM applications on or about October 15, 2013.
What needs to be done?
- You need to consider a time line and budget for the project and this can be tricky for a student organization.
- The timeline must include working on this project during summer months.
- The timeline must include developing a budget for the LPFM station and getting the funds approved either now (for 2013-14 or 2014-5).
- You also need to determine who will be the licensee for the station and obtain their approval.
- You should also be fully aware of the rules concerning this process!
- Your schools’ legal counsel will not be aware of all of the rules.
- They will likely hire outside attorneys and this can get expensive.
- If you are familiar with the rules, you can limit the expense of using lawyers.
- Using lawyers can be beneficial.
- Many of the likely applicants will be organizations that have limited resources and not fully understand the rules concerning applications or the process established to determine which applicant would be awarded a contested frequency.
- If you succeed in having the school apply for the license using an FCC lawyer, you will likely have the financial and legal resources to outlast a less well financed organization.
- You need to stay on-top of the situation and maintain support of the effort.
CBI is on-top of this issue. While CBI will not represent you legally you or provide you with specific advice concerning any application, it will provide you with general information concerning the topic and provide you with contact information for legal and technical information from those we have worked with in the past and a have a large degree of certainty that you will be provided good advice.
Our goal with this post is to make you aware of the need to act on an application that is subject to this ruling and to make you aware of the opportunities that this ruling might make available to you for an LPFM license, which could result in a 100 watt station (in practical terms, provide your station with a coverage area of 3.5 miles which should cover your campus and some of the surrounding community.
One last item of note is that LPFM stations can also have translators which would extend their coverage area!
If you need more information or have questions, please contact us!