Congratulations, you filed a low power FM application! Now what?

Sound Cloud File: 

First off, if you did not file an application for a low power FM license, it is highly unlikely that there will be another opportunity to do so. But you can still be involved! You can support and connect with folks who did apply on Radio Spark, and you can use our resources to investigate internet streaming.

If you did file: horray for you! But don’t get too excited-- this is just the beginning of the process to get your station on the air. Before you can start building your station, the FCC must award you a construction permit (this is what you applied for).

Timeline of FCC’s Low Power FM Licensing Process

Here is our best guess for what the road ahead looks like:

November 15, 2013
Application Window Closes.

November 21, 2013
FCC makes publicly searchable all of the low power FM applications. You can find these by visiting the FCC’s Application Search site here; select “FM Low Power” under Service, and “Original Construction Permit" under Application Type. Enter "10/1/2013 through 11/21/2013" as the date range.

December 2013
FCC begins awarding constructions permits to Singletons.

December 16, 2013
FCC releases Public Notice announcing start of process to resolve competitions (list of competing applicants). Applicants begin negotiating timeshare agreements (see below).

 

How does the FCC decide who gets a construction permit?

The FCC will first process applications that have no competitors. Competitors are any applicants who have applied for the same channel (or an adjacent channel-- like 99.5 and 99.7) in the same area. If you are the only group in your area that applied for a particular channel, then you are called a singleton. Singletons are in a good position because: 1) You have no competitors to compete against for the permit (or share the frequency with), and 2) Your application will be processed first! Singletons could be awarded construction permits as early as this winter. 

Competition

After processing singletons, the FCC will then process competing applications (the FCC calls these MX, or mutually exclusive, groups). If you are in competition for a frequency, there are a few ways for it to be resolved, but it requires a bit of strategy and technical know-how. Prometheus can help you do this! If you need assistance amending your application to escape competition, we offer discounted services to guide you through this process. Contact support@prometheusradio.org if you are interested.

You can also decide to join together and work with your competitors by forming a Timeshare Agreement, in which two or more distinct stations operate on the same frequency at different times of the day. There are a few different ways this can happen and many things you want to consider when crafting such an agreement. For more information read our guide on Timeshares.

It could take a while for the FCC to work through all of the competing applicants. In the past, this process has occasionally taken more than two years. So while patience will be a virtue, being proactive about resolving your competition may get you through the process faster.

Next Steps

You are on your way to getting on air! But as you wait for the FCC to award your construction permit, there are more than enough things to keep you busy. It is probably unwise to start buying equipment until you have your construction permit in hand, but it is not too early to start fundraising for your startup costs. Below is a list of resources to help you plan for a strong launch of your new station:

  • How to Launch Your Own Low Power FM Station: Linking to a variety of valuable resources, this handy guide walks you through the process of a starting a station.
  • 55 Ways to Raise $500: Fundraising tips to help you start your station.
  • Station Profiles: Get ideas for how to build your own community station by looking at some of the most inspiring low power community radio stations broadcasting today.
  • Popular Education Tools: Look at some materials designed to help groups engage in productive discussions about building a vision for their community.
  • Podcasting: Learn all the basics of podcasting, from recording and editing to broadcasting online.

 

Again, congratulations! With this new wave of low power FM community radio stations, we hope to work toward a more just and imaginative media landscape. As construction permits are issued and stations established, Prometheus will be here to help you out. But of course, the fight for media justice is far from over. Please check out our academic archives for more information on media ownership and justice, and meet our outreach partners, who are doing awesome work in the field.

Be in touch!