There are less than 100 shopping days to October 15, the date that the Federal Communications Commission will be begin accepting applications for new Low Power FM radio stations. The updated online Form 318 is available, and nosy me, I decided to set up an account just so I could take screen shots of the various question pages (click any of these images below for a bigger screen shot).
The instructions for the form say that:
“Applicants must file Form 318 electronically. The Commission has developed an electronic version of this form that is available on the Commission’s Web site. Each applicant filing electronically will benefit from ‘error checks’ in the Form 318 computer software and obtain immediate confirmation of the receipt of its application by the Commission.”
So if you are planning to file, the first step is to stroll over to the FCC’s Consolidated Database (CDBS) Account page and get yourself a new account. Then log in with your account number and password, and you’ll see a long list of forms.
The digital application for a new station is, as already noted, Form 318, which, when clicked, goes to this opening page:
I generically filled out the top bar “form description,” clicked the “new station” option, and was sent to the “General Information” page below, which I completed.
At the bottom of the page is a menu button, which takes you here: a page that guides you through the “Legal,” “Points System,” and “LPFM Engineering” sections:
The online form lets you save your application as a “Work in Progress,” so you can come back to it as you get more data. At this point you’ll definitely want to keep the Form 318 instructions pdf handy. Section Two (“legal”) first asks you to identify via a “yes/no” checklist what kind of organization you are. Nonprofit? Tribal? Public safety?
Then it asks yes/no questions regarding the FCC’s various “community-based” criteria for LPFMs. You can fulfill these via the proximity of your HQ to your transmitter, the proximity of most of your board members to your transmitter, your Tribal Status, or your intention to provide public safety services.
Then come “point system” questions that give you a chance to show that you’ve got an “established community presence,” ask you about a “publicly accessible main studio,” and query whether you plan “to originate locally at least eight hours of programming per day.” The more localness and accessibility you commit to, the more application points you score.
The last part of the point system application asks when your group first qualified as “local.” The FCC says that this information will only be used if multiple applications for the same signal result in high score ties, points-wise. In those cases, the Commission will authorize “timesharing” arrangements for LPFM applicants.
Last but not least come the engineering data pages, which require you to certify that you will comply with the FCC’s LPFM distance separation rules and other criteria.
See, that wasn’t so hard . . . at least not for me. But then again, I’m not actually applying for a LPFM station, just peeking at the forms.
In any event, remember that you can save your online application and come back to it later. So get your FCC CDBS Account Number ASAP and start clicking those yes/no queries now. What fun!