The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires that all United States radio stations get a license in order to operate. Station owners apply for licensing through the Audio Division of the FCC's Media Bureau. In 2008 the FCC received 30,000 new permit applications. Because of this high demand the sooner you submit your application, the more you increase your chances of gaining a license. Keep in mind that frequencies that do not interfere with the operation of existing stations must be available before a license is granted. For that reason the FCC recommends that you wait to purchase equipment until after your license has been granted.
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Review the FCC Radio Broadcast Rules (see resources) applicable to AM and FM stations. Familiarise yourself with station classes, operating power, multiplex sub-carriers and antenna systems. Schedule time to review the rules and regulations annually as the FCC updates the rules once a year.
Visit the Consolidated Database System (CDBS) account login page. Click "Create a New Account." Follow the intuitive commands. Submit your identification information and create your password.
Get a registration number. Fill out the Commission Registration System (CORES) Form 160 (see resources). Request a FCC Registration Number (FRN). Provide the name of your radio station or business. Supply your tax identification number and contact representative information. Use your social security number if you do not have a tax identification number. You can also call (800) 418-3676 to request a FRN application. Call (202) 418-2730 to apply for a Facility ID Number. Mail the completed forms to FCC, Attention: CORES Administrator, Room 3-A629, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554.
Complete Form 301. File for a commercial broadcast station construction permit using the 23-page Form 301 (see resources). Complete the applicable worksheets. Provide information such as your studio location, engineering specifications, local marketing agreements and critical hours of operation. Note that as of February 2001, the FCC made it mandatory that Form 301 be completed online using the CDBS system (see Resources).
Pay the required fees. Refer to the Media Bureau Fee Filing Guide. Download the report on application fees and payment schedule. Keep in mind that you can also call the Financial Operations Help Desk at (877) 480-3201 to ask about your specific payment dates and fee amounts. Call between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. You can also e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fill out Form 302-FM to apply for an FM station license. Fill out Form 302-AM for an AM station license (see resources). Supply your legal name, mailing and e-mail addresses, telephone number, program test authority and application purpose. Provide technical specifications for your radio station and applicable certifications. Ask the preparer of the form to sign the certification section of the application. Keep in mind that if you are the preparer, you will sign and date the certification. Pay required fees then sign and return the form to the Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, SW Washington, DC 20554. Include a stamped self-addressed envelope with your form to receive a copy of your processed application.
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