FCC Releases Details for Procedures for November Filing Window for New Non-Commercial, Educational (NCE) FM Channels (88.1 FM - 91.9 FM)

Submitted by Todd Urick on Sat, 08/21/2021 - 19:59

As Common Frequency previously announced, the FCC is open a filing window for nonprofits, churches, and educational institutions for limited supply of FM channels (non-commercial, educational, or "NCE" channels) for new stations primarily in mostly rural areas across the United States.


The FCC has released a summary of the filing window procedures, found here.  The following briefly summarizes 

 

  • The filing window will open at 12:01 am EDT on Tuesday, November 2, 2021, and close at 6:00 pm EST on Tuesday, November 9, 2021 for applications for only NCE channels 88.1 FM (221) to 91.9 FM (220).
     
  • There will be a freeze on minor modifications of licensed NCE stations (channels 221 –223) and intermediate frequency (IF) (channels 254-274) minor change applications after 11:59 p.m. EDT, October 4, 2021.
     
  • Organizations can start filling-out the application online within the FCC's LMS database a of August 2, 2021.  The FCC refers the the application as being "Schedule 340".  Applications are filed in the FCC;s LMS application system (assistance here https://www.fcc.gov/media/radio/lms-help-center).  The application is submitted (only) in the filing window.   State-recognized nonprofits, religious, and educational entities are qualified to apply.  Expect to procure some type of engineering and legal support to appropriately apply.
     
  • LMS instructions may be found here https://www.fcc.gov/sites/default/files/lms-340-nce-construction-permit-application-howto.pdf.  Instructions for Form 340 are here https://www.fcc.gov/sites/default/files/lms-340-construction-permit-application.pdf.  One may log into LMS to fill the application out at https://enterpriseefiling.fcc.gov/dataentry/login.html.
     
  • Any one applicant may file no more than a total of 10 applications.
     
  • Applicants must receive permission in advance from the tower site owner they are proposing to use, and disclose that contact on the application.
     
  • In the case more than one applicant files for a radio channel, the application winner will be decided by either:
     
    • "Section 307(b)" The applicant that proposed first or second non-commercial service to a certain population (per Section 307(b) of the Communications Act) is given preference for winning the radio channel.  In other words, preference is given to an applicant proposing to cover a population that has no current NCE service, or only one NCE service.  This is determined by the number of NCE stations with "60 dBu contours" currently covering a populated area that the applicant is applying to cover.  "Fringe" service covering this population does not count.  A consulting engineer must be hired to assess this.
       
    • "NCE Point System" An applicant declares a certain amount of "points" on the application concerning if they already have a station in the vicinity of where they are applying, and whether the applicant is "local" (residing within 25 miles of the proposed station's community of license).  Points are also assessed after filing by the FCC for the applicant that proposes to cover the most population/area.  Additionally there is tie-breaker criteria:  First, if the applicant that has the least FCC authorizations (stations) -- then if there is a tie there, the applicant is selected that has submitted the least applications within the filing window.
       
  • The strategy concerning "307(b)" proposals, and finer points of the NCE Point System, require the assistance of an engineer, and perhaps a broadcast attorney, if an applicant wishes to be confident with their proposal.  For more information, read this primer courtesy of Attorney Michael Couzens for further detail.
     
  • All certification criteria (e.g., proof of nonprofit incorporation, date of incorporation, proof of local address, proof of Native/Tribal status, proof of statewide educational institution) must be affixed to the application.  The FCC will not allow amendment/supplementation of this information after applying.
     
  • A dismissed applicant will have one opportunity to file a minor curative technical amendment to its application and a petition for reconsideration, requesting reinstatement of the application.  To note, this amendment may not increase its comparative points, only reduce these factors.

For any questions, information, or support, feel free to contact Common Frequency:  info@commonfrequency, or 415-985-6777 Option 0.  

Common Frequency also can provide assistance concerning applications from performing the engineering to the executing and submitting the entire application.