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Obtaining a Radio Station

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the authority that provides construction permits for new radio broadcasting stations.  The FCC is equipped to regulate all non-federal government use of the radio spectrum; all interstate telecommunications including wire, satellite and cable; and all international communications that originate or terminate in the United States.

Application forms for obtaining licenses and construction permits for new radio broadcasting stations may be obtained through the internet by accessing the FCC website or by writing to the FCC.  Commercial AM, FM, and TV broadcast station applications must be accompanied with filing fees.  Most of the broadcast application forms require electronic filing.  The FCC announces window periods for submitting new radio station applications.  Applications must be filed during this period.  The FCC issues construction permits for new radio stations depending upon the frequency range of existing radio stations and permitted frequency limit of aeronautical operations. Applicants for new radio stations often use the professional services of broadcast engineers and legal counsel to resolve such technical or legal issues.   

The radio broadcast station rules are found in parts 70 to 79 of the Code of Federal Regulations.  As per this regulation, there are 117 carrier frequencies assigned to AM broadcast stations between 540 kHz to 1700 kHz.  Commercial and non-commercial applicants uses Form 301 to apply to the FCC for new AM radio broadcast stations during the specified application window period.  The application must show that no interference will be caused to other US and foreign AM stations on the same frequency or, on the adjacent channels under 47 CFR 73.7.  Moreover, the application must indicate the second harmonic frequency and intermediate frequency relationships as per 47 CFR 73.182(s). 

FM commercial stations are authorized to operate between 92.1 MHz to 107.9 MHz as per 47 CFR 73.201. et seq.  Commercial applicants should obtain Form 301 and electronically file it when complete.   Filing fees are requried.  If the petitioner/applicant succeeds in its bid for allotment, Form 301 becomes the post-auction long-form construction permit application.

The rules for noncommercial educational stations are found in 47 CFR 73.501 through 73.599, and 73.1001 through 73.4280.  Form 340 is used for electronically filing this type of FM station without any application filing fee. 

Low power FM (LPFM) stations were created in January 2000.  These stations operate with an effective radiated power of 100 watts or less and cover a radius of approximately 5.6 km (3.5 miles).  These stations are not protected from interference of other classes of FM stations.

FM translator stations rebroadcast the existing FM stations to small areas.  These stations rebroadcast noncommercial educational stations and commercial stations.  FCC Form 345 is used to electronically apply for this type of station.  Commercial applicants file this with new station application and fee along with FCC Form159.  Noncommercial applicants are exempted from application filing fee.

At present the FCC is not accepting any applications for new AM broadcast stations, FM commercial broadcast stations, LPFM broadcast stations, and commercial or noncommercial educational FM translator broadcast stations.   The FCC does not provide any data relating to the costs of construction or equipment for radio broadcast stations.

Inside Obtaining a Radio Station