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Applying for Non-Commercial Radio Stations

We're sorry, but as of Monday September 10th, Broadcast Signal Lab has reached capacity and we are no longer able to accept new clients for Spectrum Studies. We'll keep the information posted below for our existing Spectrum Study clients.

If you need hypothetical radio broadcast facility modeled for the upcoming FCC filing window in October, we recommend you try finding a qualified engineer via your local chapter of the Society of Broadcast Engineers.

BSL : FCC Filing Window for New NCE Stations
BSL : Performing a Spectrum Study
BSL : Prices and Deadlines : How to Apply for a Broadcast Station

The FCC Filing Window for New NCE Stations : A Synopsis

From October 12th to the 19th, 2007, the FCC will accept applications for new stations, and major changes to existing stations, in the non-commercial/educational (NCE) band. The NCE band is from 87.9MHz to 91.9MHz. This is the first time the FCC has accepted applications for new stations in nearly 10 years. There is a significant demand for new service across most of the United States.

Broadcast Signal Lab is happy to be contracted to help your non-profit/educational group determine if it's possible for you to apply for a new station. And, if it is possible, we'll be happy to help you submit your application to the FCC. However, we believe in being honest to our clients, and we want them to understand the situation in realistic terms. For example, not every location will be able to add a new station to the NCE band; all of the major markets, and most of the medium markets, are already heavily served by existing NCE stations...and thus have a very small chance of adding even one new station. In addition, due to the pent-up demand, there will likely be multiple applicants for the same slice of spectrum.

If you want a thousand-watt FM station in the heart of New York or Boston, we can promise you that will you go away empty-handed; there's just too many existing signals. However, in some cases there may be room for a smaller station in the distant suburbs of these cities. Similarly, if you're in an area with few existing stations, there might be room for a new station. Even so, there might be distant stations that are very powerful and might block new applications. Or existing applications / Construction Permits that aren't broadcasting now...but will still prevent new stations from coming in.

How do you know whether or not you can fit a new station in your area?
You need what we call a Spectrum Study!

Spectrum Studies

A spectrum study is an examination of a hypothetical broadcast facility at a given location, power and height, and that facility's interaction with existing nearby broadcast facilities. It will determine whether or not that hypothetical facility will cause undesired interference, and it can demonstrate the likelihood of "clear reception" (as perceived by listeners) in given areas. In short, this technical report will serve as your basis for decidning whether to apply to the FCC for a frequency, and what power/frequency/location to apply for. It will also help in filling out the technical sections of your application to the FCC (although additional work may be necessary to complete the technical portion of the appication).

Please note, a spectrum study is not a guarantee that a new facility can be fit into your area. It is the first step in determining if one can be fit. If it IS possible, then a Spectrum Study is a necessary part of your eventual FCC application.

If you choose to engage our services to perform a Spectrum Study, we will first discuss your options with you. We'll want to figure out one or more potential transmitter locations, ideal target audience locations, and any issues with terrain or interference that may be unique to your area. The more you can tell us about these issues...especially the height, latitude and longitude of any preferred tower locations...the better! Once we have this information, we'll use our signal modeling software to start "building" a hypothetical broadcast facility. We can also model multiple hypothetical facilites and frequencies, but this will increase the cost. Issues like adjacent existing signals, terrain and existing towers will be considered. After crunching all the numbers, we'll present you with a report in approximately two weeks (more if the modeling is more complex) that details your proposed facility, as well any regulatory or engineering issues that may be relevant.

Prices and Deadlines

Pricing for a Spectrum Study varies mostly due to complexity. Factors for complexity include the number of locations and frequencies you want to examine, the presence of a TV Channel 6 (which is immediately "below" the NCE FM band) in the area, and the need for waivers or special conditions. The "standard" Spectrum Study will model one or two hypothetical facilites, with no nearby TV Channel 6 stations, and no special conditions or waivers.

Our pricing schedule for a "standard" Spectrum Study is as follows:

  • Until August 14th, 2007 : $600 to $1000
  • Aug.15 - Sept.3rd, 2007 : $1200 to $1600
  • Sept.4th - Oct.1st, 2007 : $2000 to $3000
  • After October 1st, we may not be able to accept new clients until after the filing window closes on Oct.19th, so please call to determine if we are still accepting new clients for Spectrum Studies.

    Pre-Window Application Freeze: Please note that the FCC will begin a limited application filing freeze on September 8th and lasting until the NCE filing window closes on October 19th. See this notice (PDF) for details. If you want to file for a change to your existing broadcast facility in anticipation/blocking of potentially interfering new service, your application must be submitted before then. Similarly, if you wish to have Broadcast Signal Lab perform a Spectrum Study to assist you with such an application, you must contact us no later than August 23, 2007.


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