Non-Commercial FM Project Schedule

I. FIRST STEP: In order to determine exactly what frequencies are available in your area we must run a Frequency Search. This search will analyze the non-commercial educational FM frequencies, and tell us which ones are available for your use, and at what power of transmission. The search will be valid over a 30 mile radius from the point of origin you give us (city you wish to broadcast from). This will cover 2,827 square miles, and take approximately four weeks to prepare.


II. Once we have analyzed the Frequency Search, we will determine the best frequency for your purpose.

III. The new frequency has been found and must now be applied for. To do this, you must file an Application for Construction Permit, which is a highly detailed form describing you, and all the engineering work necessary to properly inform the Commission about your plans of location, and operation. The time it takes to complete the application is determined by how long it will take you to provide us with the information we will request from you, approximately, two weeks to two months.

Sterling Communications, Inc. guarantees that the FCC will accept your application for filing. (The FCC has very stringent guidelines which must be adhered to, or else the application will be refused.) Sterling does not guarantee that the FCC will award you the frequency. The FCC will base its award simply on the merits of the individual applicant.

a) The FCC will acknowledge receipt of your application in 30 days. They will then take another 30 days to issue a public notice declaring your application “Accepted For Filing.”
ACCUMULATED TIME: Sixteen weeks.

b) If no one else files an Application for the frequency, then you have no competition. You will then be awarded the Construction Permit, and receive it in the mail in approximately three months.

NOTE: You now have 36 months to build your facilities including a tower with antenna, and a broadcasting studio. You can look at our “FM Equipment List” for estimated cost involved in building a 3,000 Watt FM Radio Station.

c) If someone else applies for the frequency and their application for Construction Permit is “Accepted For Filing”, then you will have to continue through several more steps in order for the FCC to determine who the successful applicant will be.

NOTE: As a standard rule of thumb, most Non-Commercial Applications have zero to three competitors.

IV. If you have competition from a Competing Applicant, then one of you must prevail. This can be accomplished in one of three ways, or a combination of these three.

A) COMPARATIVE POINTS – Essentially, this is a series of points established by the FCC, that compare all the applicants with each other. The application required for filing allows us to indicate these points for which you would be eligible.

The Comparative Points are a replacement to the older form of application review which required Comparative Hearings. These Hearings actually required the applicant to appear before FCC judges in a court setting with your attorney, competitors and their attorneys.

The points system allows the large amount of time and great expense of the applicant to be reduced dramatically compared to the old hearing system. The points system also has in place factors to determine the smallest details of the applications to minimize the chance of ties amongst applicants.

There are to many steps involved to list here, but the processing of the application occurs as follows:

  1. From the time your Application is “Accepted For Filing”, it can take up to one year to see the FCC complete processing.
  2. It can take up to an additional nine months before the FCC comes to an “Initial Decision”, and then another forty-five days before the decision becomes final if there are no exceptions brought before the FCC.

The major points are as follows:

1) Established Local Applicant
2) Diversity of Ownership
3) Technical Parameters
4)Tie breakers which include the number of Existing & Pending Authorizations.

B) MERGERS – Sometimes, competitors determine that it would be better to merge with the competition and settle for a percentage of ownership rather than wait for the Points processing, especially when a possible tie would result in a mandatory time sharing ruling by the FCC. The FCC encourages mergers which ultimately declare just one applicant for the frequency.  This saves the FCC the extra work load of a Comparative Points Process. Once a merger has been completed, the applicant can expect to receive the CP in approximately 90 days. Legal expenses are often required by a merger to negotiate partnership.

C) BUY-OUT SETTLEMENT – Occasionally, one competitor will buy out the competition by offering to compensate the competitor if he will withdraw his application for the frequency. This is a perfectly acceptable method of reducing the number of applicants in the eyes of the FCC, because it again reduces the work load, and speeds up the time the station can be put on the air to serve the public good.  Once a settlement has been reached and only one applicant remains, then the CP can be awarded in about 90 days.

NOTE: Over the past several years, Sterling Communications has assisted scores of individuals and organizations to enter the world of broadcasting through station ownership. Our experience has helped us to properly advise our clients when it was to their advantage to pursue one of the three methods mentioned for securing a Construction Permit. Once all Applications have been Accepted For Filing, Sterling can assist our Clients in determining which direction they should choose in pursuing a frequency to keep the cost of legal expenses at a minimum by doing a “Points Analysis”. This Points Analysis will involve performing a frequency contour check, a site check, a population study, and a study of the entity with which we are competing by verifying their local residence status, other broadcast interest, and several other criteria upon which the FCC will judge an applicant on a Comparative Basis. Sterling Communications will charge a fee of $1,050.00 per competing applicant on which we do a Points Analysis.

After proper review of all the applicants vying for a particular frequency, some of our clients choose to withdraw their application in exchange for compensation from the other applicants, and receive an amount over and above their expenses in applying for the frequency. At our suggestion, other clients choose to contend for the frequency and win it under the “Comparative Point Process.” Each application requires a different course of action, and Sterling is experienced enough to assist you in making the best and most economical choice.

Our track record of successful applicants since 1979 speaks for itself. Available is a list of references of some of our successful applicants. We hope you will contact them to learn how we have helped them get into broadcasting.

MarkNon-Commercial FM Project Schedule