The window will be open for low power FM applications from 10/15/13 to 10/29/13, and the FCC is doing what it can to help prospective applications participate. To that end, it has already held one webinar, and now has another on the schedule.
Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake said that the first session, “…allowed viewers to ask questions directly to Bureau staff. We were delighted to answer many questions during the session and have continued to respond to your inquiries since then.”
The next session, on the books for Thursday 10/3/13, 12 days before the official window opening, will address a number of topics.
In a blog post, Lake made a number of points.
1. Start getting paperwork done now, especially the task of filling out Form 318.
2. Remember that you must be able to prove your non-profit status.
3. Community entities planning to share a station can file together on one form; or they can file separately for the same frequency or for a mutually exclusive frequency and work out the sharing details on their own in their own good time, regardless of which one (if any) ultimately wins the license.
4. There must be a specified applicant who will assume responsibility for constructing and operating the stations, which argues against going overboard with the filing of separate applications in hopes of increasing the odds of being awarded a license.
5. There are special rules for schools – if a school has a non-student-run noncom full power, it can apply for an LPFM if it is intended for student management; also, a local campus of a larger university may apply for an independent LPFM, .as long as the school is separately incorporated and has “a distinct local presence and mission.”
Lake concluded, “Finally, filing a Form 318 application is just the first step in getting an LPFM construction permit and eventually an LPFM license. If your Form 318 for an LPFM construction permit is granted, the next steps are: (1) begin construction; (2) obtain the station’s call sign through the broadcast call sign reservation and authorization system; and (3) when construction is finished, begin program testing and file the Form 319 application for a low power FM broadcast license. Please note that once you begin the construction of antenna structures and broadcasting facilities, such as studios or offices, you must adhere to your local zoning and building codes or regulations. Possession of an FCC construction permit does not preempt or override your obligation to comply with local ordinances.”
RBR-TVBR observation: If we were in the market to kick off an LPFM station, we would treat this window as do or die. The FCC has just stated its intention to make FM translators to AM stations as a means of revitalizing the AM band. FM translators are competing with LPFM for the same dial positions in markets where openings are scarce.
Therefore, we would assume that when the LPFM window closes, it will stay closed and AM stations will start looking for their own opportunities.
So LPFM licensee wannabes, we strongly advise you to act now.