Materials To Gather
As part of your application, you will need to submit materials to prove that you are a state-registered, local nonprofit organization, that you have an educational purpose, and that your LPFM station will further that purpose. To do this, you’ll need to gather the following materials:
- A description of your organization’s educational purpose for the radio station
- An explanation of how your programming will further this purpose
- A detailed description of your proposed programming, including program schedule
- Information about your organization’s board members (name, citizenship, title, percent or number of votes on board, and percentage of organization’s assets, if applicable)
- Employer Identification Number (EIN) or Tax ID number, if your organization has one.
- Documents establishing your nonprofit status, such as the articles of incorporation (otherwise known as the charter) that list the state and date of your incorporation. If you’re not incorporated, you may include your articles of association, or some other documentation of your organization’s creation.
Create an FCC Account
Before you can start your application, you need to create an FCC username and FCC Registration Number in the CORES system. Then you will use that account to start an LPFM application in the FCC’s Licensing Management System (LMS). Find our FCC username guide here and our LMS guide here.
Start Your Application
Follow along with this guide as you answer each question on the LPFM application step-by-step:
Application Description – Enter a description of the application for your own use. This is just a label in the LMS system to help you keep track of filings you prepare for the FCC.
Uploaded Attachments – Usually the answer to this is ‘no’. You will select ‘yes’ only if you plan to upload additional attachments other than those required to answer some of the questions on the application.
Fees, Waivers and Exemptions
Most applicants will select ‘no’. If your application requests a waiver of the commission’s rules, select ‘yes’ and upload an attachment with explanation.
Enter the legal name of your organization and its contact information.
List the contact information for the main contact with the organization as the Contact Representative (select Other, type ‘Contact Representative’). If you have a third party engineer and/or attorney advising you on the application, they should be listed separately here as well. You must list at least one person.
Parties to the Application
The parties to your application are the people who have legal control over your organization. Generally, these are the members that make up your board of directors but could include others depending on your organization’s legal structure. You should consult your organization’s bylaws before completing this section. This guide is written for typical community organizations (‘non-stock corporations’) and does not discuss FCC rules that apply to stock corporations, limited liability companies, or more complex organizations. For more complex cases, it may be necessary to consult an attorney. See the FCC’s instructions for more details.
Enter the contact information for each board member (or other parties to the application). All current board members must be listed here! To be eligible for an LPFM license, no more than 20% of your board can be controlled by non-citizens of the US. The ‘Positional Interest’ is the party’s title. For board members, this title is usually ‘Director’ but check your organization’s bylaws to be sure. Many organizations assign an equal percentage of votes to each board member, but, again, you should check to see if that’s the case for your group. Note that for most nonprofit organizations, ‘percentage of total assets’ for each party is zero, since board members do not own the organization’s assets.
Here you are certifying that you have listed all parties who have an attributable interest in your organization. In other words, no other party has a financial stake in your organization that could give them a large degree of influence or control over your station, even though they don’t technically own it. If there are any other parties who may have a stake in your organization, see FCC instructions. Basically you are confirming that there are no other companies or individuals who have financial interests or otherwise control the organization.
Select ‘N/A’ if all equity and financial interests of your organization are listed in Parties to the Application. Most simple non-profit organizations should select ‘N/A.’
Select ‘yes’ if there are other parties with control over your organization, but their interests are not attributable, meaning that they do not trigger the FCC’s multiple ownership rules. See FCC instructions.
You may select ‘no’ and submit an exhibit only under the following circumstances:
- If your organization is a university that already has another LPFM license, officers or directors whose duties are completely unrelated to the LPFM station may submit an exhibit recusing themselves of any matters affecting the LPFM station.
- If your organization is a local chapter of a national organization, you should submit an exhibit demonstrating that your organization is locally incorporated separately from the national organization and that it has a distinct local mission with significant membership in the local area.
Here you will answer questions regarding foreign ownership or control over your organization. At least 80% of your board must be US citizens. If your organization answers ‘yes’ to one of these questions, you will need to upload an explanatory exhibit and you may want to consult with an attorney.
Eligibility Certifications – Here you will select whether you are applying as an educational organization, federally recognized tribe, or government public safety agency. We will focus here on educational organizations, if you are applying as a tribe or public safety agency refer to the FCC’s instructions.
You must include an exhibit describing the organization’s educational program. The exhibit should include:
- Your organization’s educational purpose
- How your programming will advance your educational purpose
- Detailed descriptions of proposed programming and a program schedule
- The organization state of incorporation and date
It is recommended that you include headers to label the various parts of your exhibit. This will make it easier for anyone reviewing the application to know that all elements have been fulfilled.
Keep in mind that your application will not be judged on merits of your organization’s purpose or programming, as long as they are noncommercial. “Educational purpose” is defined broadly; for example, music and public affairs programs might advance your organization’s educational purpose.
Note that you do not have to be registered as a 501(c)(3) with the IRS to be eligible (no need to include IRS documentation in this exhibit), but you do need to qualify as a nonprofit educational organization under your state’s laws.
Community-Based Criteria – Here you will certify that your organization qualifies for an LPFM license as a local organization. Nonprofits must either be physically headquartered within 10 miles of the proposed transmitting antenna (or within 20 miles if you are outside the top 50 radio markets), or have at least 75% of your organization’s board members reside within 10 miles of the transmitting antenna (within 20 miles outside the top 50 radio markets). You do not need to meet both criteria.
We recommend that if you do qualify for both criteria, select the headquarters option. Board members and their residences may change, and you will need to maintain this as you update board member information periodically with the FCC.
Ownership – This subsection is to ensure that applicants do not violate the FCC rules regarding ownership of multiple LPFMs or other media outlets.
Question 1, Ownership of Other LPFM Stations: An organization may own only one LPFM station. Select ‘Yes’ if no party to your application owns any other LPFM station or has any other LPFM applications on file with the FCC. Only select ‘No’ if you plan to divest your organization of the conflicting station or application before the LPFM you apply for begins operating. In that case, submit an exhibit with identifying information on any conflicting LPFM stations, file numbers of any pending applications, and a statement of the party’s intention to divest interest from the conflicting station(s) before the LPFM that you are applying for begins operating. Tribes and Tribal organizations and public safety agencies have different ownership rules, see FCC instructions.
Question 2, Ownership of Other Media: In general, LPFM licensees cannot own other broadcast stations or cable systems (online radio stations and cable access TV channels are permitted). There are two exceptions: Tribes and Tribal organizations can own up to two LPFM stations, and schools and universities can apply for a student-run LPFM station if their existing radio station is not student-run. Furthermore, parties to your application cannot own more than two FM translators (or four FM translators in the case of a Tribe or Tribal organization). If your organization owns no other media or meets the above criteria, you may select ‘Yes’. If you select ‘No’, you may submit an exhibit that includes identifying information on any conflicting broadcast entities, and a statement of your intention to divest interest from the conflicting station(s) before the LPFM that you are applying for begins operating.
Question 3, Pending Applications for Ownership of Other Media: Here you must disclose if your organization or any party to your application has a pending application for a Low Power FM, full power AM or FM station, FM translator station, or full or low power television station.
Question 4, Immediate Family Members: Just as your board members generally may not control other media, the FCC has rules about the media interests of your board’s immediate family members. Immediate family here means the husband, wife, father, mother, sister, brother, son or daughter of any party to the application. If these family members of your board members have any connection with any other broadcast station or pending broadcast application in the same area, you should complete Worksheet #1a, which can be found on page 13 of the FCC’s 2013 LPFM application instructions. (If not, select ‘Yes.’) You will not need to submit the worksheet to the FCC. If Worksheet #1a determines that you are in compliance with FCC rules on the media interests of family members, you may select ‘Yes’ for this field. If not, you may still be eligible, but you must answer ‘No’ and attach an exhibit. In this case, you may need the assistance of an attorney.
Question 5, Investor Insulation and Non-Participation of Non-Party Investors and Creditors: This field is only relevant if your organization is a limited partnership or a limited liability corporation, or if your organization has non-party investors that could influence your organization. See FCC instructions. If this does not apply to your organization, you may select ‘Yes’ for this field.
Character Issues – This question only applies to applicants who have had unresolved character issues from previous broadcast applications or proceedings. If the FCC has never raised character issues about your organization or board members, then check ‘Yes.’ If you select ‘No’, you must submit materials as an exhibit, see FCC instructions.
Adverse Findings – This question asks you to certify that no adverse finding has been made against any party to your application in any civil or criminal proceeding related to any felony, mass media related antitrust or unfair competition, fraudulent statements to the government, or discrimination. In other words, none of your board members have been found guilty of these acts. For the purpose of this question, you only need to consider the past ten years.
If a party to your application has adverse findings against him/her in the last ten years, you must select ‘No’ and submit an exhibit explaining your situation, see FCC instructions. The FCC will review your exhibit and determine whether the situation warrants dismissal of your application.
Unlicensed Operation – You are not eligible for an LPFM license if your organization or any party to your application (ie, your board members) have ever operated an unlicensed (i.e. pirate) station. This is now a federal law and the FCC cannot grant a waiver. Lying to the FCC on this question is considered perjury, and if discovered will result in your application being dismissed or your license revoked. There is no specific rule regarding station volunteers who may have been affiliated with unlicensed stations in the past.
Point System Factors/Tie Breakers
In crowded areas, the FCC will get many more LPFM applications than there are available frequencies. Applicants who are competing in the same area are considered to be “mutually exclusive” (abbreviated as MX), meaning that only one group can get the license. A group of competing applicants is called an “MX group.” Unless every applicant in an MX group agrees to share the frequency, the FCC uses a point system to determine which applicant(s) will win the LPFM license. In this event, an application will be thrown out if it is not at least tied for the greatest number of points within an MX group. From here the remaining applicants will have an opportunity to decide among themselves how to share the frequency.
The FCC awards one point for each of the following criteria:
- Established community presence. Your group has been locally established for at least two years.
- Local program origination. You pledge to produce at least eight hours of local programming each day.
- Main studio. You pledge to maintain a publicly accessible studio that is staffed at least 20 hours each week.
- Local program origination and main studio. You pledge both #2 and #3 above.
- Diversity of ownership. Your organization controls no other broadcast stations.
- Tribes or Tribal organizations. You are a Tribe or Tribal organization broadcasting on Tribal lands.
See below for more details:
Established Community Presence – Select only one of the three fields.
If your organization is a nonprofit educational organization, you must meet both of the following criteria:
- the nonprofit organization has existed as a nonprofit for at least two years;
- the organization, for at least two years, has been physically headquartered, has had a campus, or has had at least 75% of its members living within 10 miles of the proposed antenna site (20 miles if outside of the top 50 urban markets)
If you claim a point under this criteria, you must submit materials as an exhibit. The exhibit must include evidence of the date that your organization began as a nonprofit under the rules in your state. To show your organization’s period of existence, you can use copies of corporate charters, articles of incorporation, or documents from government agencies.
Local program origination- Select ‘Yes’ only if your organization pledges to locally produce at least eight hours of local programming per day. This does not include local rebroadcast of non-local programs, automated programs, or any program that is broadcast more than twice.
Main studio – Select ‘Yes’ if your organization pledges to keep a publicly accessible main studio that is:
- able to produce local programming;
- reachable by telephone;
- staffed at least 20 hours per week between 7 am and 10 pm;
- located within 10 miles of the proposed antenna site (20 miles if outside of the top 50 urban markets).
Keep in mind that most rooms can be converted into a studio space at relatively little cost. If you do select ‘Yes’, you will need to include an address and telephone number for the proposed studio space. You may change this later by filing an amendment to your application. However, your original location must meet the requirements above.
Local program origination and main studio – Select ‘Yes’ if you selected ‘Yes’ for both local program origination and the main studio criteria. Bonus point!
Diversity of ownership – Select ‘Yes’ if no party to your application has ownership or attributable interest in any broadcast station. Most organizations will be able to qualify for this point. However, if your organization is a local chapter of a national organization with broadcast holdings, or a student station at a university with another radio station, you must select ‘No.’
Tribes or Tribal organization – Select ‘Yes’ if your organization is a Tribe or Tribal Organization that is proposing to locate its transmitting antenna on Tribal Lands.
Involuntary Time-Share Information- This section only becomes relevant in the rare case that tied competing groups cannot resolve their competition through a voluntary timeshare or other settlement agreement. In that rare circumstance, the FCC will institute an involuntary timeshare. If there are more than three remaining tied groups, the FCC will select the three organizations that have been in their communities the longest and mandate that these organizations share a single station.
To determine which organizations have been in the area the longest, this section asks for the date at which your organization qualified as local, and after which you remained continuously local. This is generally the date at which your organization was incorporated as a nonprofit, but it could be the date when you moved to your current location. Fill out this date and select ‘Yes’ if your organization has continuously remained local since this date. If you select ‘No’, your organization will be given the least priority in an involuntary timeshare situation.
Congratulations! You have completed the non-technical portion of the LPFM application. For information on how to complete the technical section of the LPFM application, please refer to LPFM Application, Technical Sections.