How do I start a LPTV Station?

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To start a LPTV station, now digital for new applicants, the first step is to determine exactly what channels are available in your area. Just like the radio station process, we must first run a Channel Search (see LPTV Channel Search Agreement download above).

We provide back to you the results of the search, in a report form, very easy for anyone to understand, but with the technical details included in the back of the report so that even an engineer is satisfied. After you have reviewed the report, you will let us know if the findings meet your expectations and if you wish to proceed with the application.

Prior to construction of any LPTV station, a FCC Construction Permit is required. The next step following the channel search is to file a LPTV application, requesting a digital LPTV Construction Permit from the FCC. This Form (346) includes an engineering section, which our office routinely completes along with all associated technical exhibits, legal, financial, and programming sections. This form is completed with the assistance of an attorney specializing in practice before the FCC. Along with the LPTV Channel Search Report you will receive our consulting agreement for filing your application. In our consulting agreement we guarantee your application to be “accepted for filing with the FCC” or your money back.

During the filing process it is possible that you have a competitor file for the same channel or adjacent, with large or slight overlap of your contours. This is rare with LPTV because applications are filed on a daily “as needed” basis. The FCC does not open a window for competing applications as they do in radio. The only way you would have a competitor was if another entity filed for a nearby channel and overlapping coverage area during the same filing date. If this were to occur it would be settled by application amendment or ultimately an auction.

The total time from tender to grant is typically nine to twelve months.

Once you have the Digital LPTV Construction Permit, you have 36 months to get the station built, on the air and licensed. Depending on your situation, you may immediately complete the buildout and get on the air the first month, or use the first couple of years to choose where to put the studio, buy equipment and generate local interest.

There are a large number of good equipment resources available to purchase LPTV equipment from, and handle the installation and your training in how to use the equipment on a daily basis. Once you have a Construction Permit, you’ll notice you begin receiving a lot of materials, emails and phone calls from these companies. We will help you with this phase of the project just as we helped you get the Construction Permit. We’ll make sure you go on the air (and the local cable provider and internet) as economically and quickly as possible.

Are you ready to begin?  Contact Us

Low Power Television Project Information
The signal from a digital LPTV station, works best using the UHF channels 14-51, will travel to the horizon, but very little beyond. Except in very small areas, the maximum permissible power of 15 kw’s will generally be worthwhile. Increasing your antenna height always increases the distance to the horizon but the cost of the transmission line and installation cost all go up rapidly with height. In addition, the transmission line absorbs power in proportion to its length, particularly at UHF. A practical limit is generally reached at 400 to 500 feet. During our inititial channel study, we find the best combination of height and power for you. In flat, open terrain with a 400 foot antenna height, an easily received signal will be available at 20 miles and homes which make an effort to receive the signal should get it out to 30 miles. In urban areas the coverage, while hard to estimate, will be less due to man made obstructions and noise.

VHF & UHF Comparisons
VHF Transmitting antennas are much larger than UHF antennae. Man made interference, especially from power lines and automobile ignitions, frequently cause interference to low power signals. Long distance co-channel interference (skip) is a problem from time-to-time especially on low VHF channels (2-6). High power FM stations can interfere with LPTV stations on Channels 6 thru 13. Digital Full Power stations on the VHF band are finding that producing a digital signal, similar in coverage to their former analog signal is tough, and most opt for UHF channels. We recommend the same to you.

In general, UHF channels will be free of man made and natural interference. High gain transmitting antennas are readily available and are relatively small, requiring less tower space, and therefore lower rent.

Application Requirements
Any qualified individual or group, corporation or non-profit corporation may apply for a LPTV channel. We will assist you in making the decision on how you wish to proceed as an applicant. As to technical requirements, all transmitting apparatus proposed to be utilized must meet the requirements for type approval by the Commission as set forth in the Rules. In addition, each proposal must contain a complete, detailed diagram and narrative statement describing the technical aspects of the application. The showing must include an analysis of the interference potential for the channel selected. Such studies, as a rule, can be made only by a qualified broadcast technician. The Commission’s staff is not available for technical assistance to prospective applicants and the staff will only give advice on application procedures. It is highly recommended that prospective applicants for TV channels, retain competent broadcast technical help in planning and submitting applications. Only those applications that are engineered with care and certified by a technically qualified firm will be accepted for filing and processed.

Financial Requirements
A low cost, local digital LPTV television station can be equipped for under $150,000 in some cases. This is much less than a conventional high power television station, and can be less than the cost of a radio station. Financing is available up to 90% and leasing programs for equipment are available to entities with good credit. Your actual cost outlay prior to going on the air may be as little as $40,000.

A welcome feature of your new service will be access to the viewing public by local advertisers at prices they can afford.

  • We have, through the application process for a LPFM Radio Station, found James Price and his staff to be professional in every way. They were always, even through our “ignorant questions”, “affable, available and affordable”. At every decision junction, they released wisdom filled with judgement based on their experience and engineering knowledge. All through our application process they shared with us the appropriate direction to take based on what we needed, not what was perhaps best for them. Our application was successful due to their labor and we continue to look to them for all the necessary next steps. With Sterling Communications you receive professional care and sensitivity to the needs of you the client.

    Jim Hughes MD FRCS, The Church in Jackson
  • …a note of thanks for the wonderful and professional work you have provided for the many stations we have had over the years. It seems like we are always changing or moving something with the stations. As the years pass, we have found that we can trust your services and can call, at almost any time, with questions that we need your help to answer. Thanks again for your years of service for us here at Alabama Christian Radio, Inc.

    Pat Jarrell ACR
  • In 2004, we knew God was leading our ministry to purchase a 100kW FM non-commercial station, but we didn’t know much at all about FCC regulations, radio equipment, engineering studies or coverage maps. James Price and crew at Sterling Communications patiently answered ALL our questions and gave us information about questions we didn’t know enough to ask! Their engineering expertise enabled us to receive 3 construction permits during a non-commercial FM filing window, move antennas to more strategic locations and make well-informed decisions as opportunities arose to purchase other stations. They walked us through growing our network from that first station to 7 stations and 9 translators throughout Nebraska, all with faith, good humor and an awareness of our need to stretch each dollar!

    Carolyn Simmons Mission Nebraska
  • I will tell you that I have used many engineers before Sterling. None were as caring, effective and knowledgeable as James and his father have been. Jim Price (the father) was one of the most knowledgeable and innovative persons / engineers that I have known in my rather long career, and James has those same qualities. The Sterling staff is and always has been extremely willing to help. In addition, as a last comment, which is one of the most important items in any business, Sterling's pricing is always acceptable and very competitive.

    Charles Beard CSSI Non-Profit Educational Broadcasting Corp.
  • With over 50 years of broadcasting behind us here at VCY America Radio and TV, the importance of quality consulting and engineering remains the foundation for our more than 35 facilities across the network. James Price and the wonderful team at Sterling Communications have never disappointed us and their outstanding work is testimony before the broadcast industry and the FCC of the quality of their work. Sterling Communications knows how to get it done and done right.

    Dr. Vic Eliason, V.P. VCY America Radio Network
MarkHow do I start a LPTV Station?