Application Info For Full Power & Low Power FM Radio

How to Apply for a Broadcast Station

In the following sections, we provide some basic information about radio and television stations and the related application processes.

Heavy Demand for New Broadcast Stations.

Potential applicants for radio and television services should be aware that frequencies for these services are always in heavy demand. For example, the Commission received approximately 30,000 inquiries from persons seeking to start radio broadcast stations last year. Where broadcast frequencies remain available, competing applications are routinely received. Thus, you are cautioned at the outset that the filing of an application does not guarantee that you will receive a broadcast station construction permit. You should also be aware that in many areas of the country, no frequencies may be available on which a new station could commence operating without causing interference to existing stations, which would violate FCC rules. For that reason, we do not recommend that you purchase any equipment before receiving a construction permit from the FCC.

Expansion of the AM or FM radio bands is unlikely to occur in the near future. The FM band is constrained from expanding above 107.9 MHz by the presence of aeronautical operations on 108 MHz to 136 MHz, and is also prevented from expanding below 88.1 MHz by Channel 6 television operations on 82.0 through 88.0 MHz. The AM band was recently expanded from 1600 to 1700 kHz after years of international negotiations, however those frequencies are reserved for existing stations which were causing significant interference in the lower part of the band.

Unlicensed Operation Prohibited. A very common question asked to the FCC is whether broadcasting at very low power requires a license. Please be aware that unlicensed operation of radio broadcast stations is prohibited, even at such low powers such as 1 watt or less. The only unlicensed operation that is permitted on the AM and FM broadcast bands is covered under Part 15 of the FCC’s rules, and is limited to a coverage radius of approximately 200 feet. (See the Commission’s July 24, 1991 Public Notice.) Unlicensed operation is also not permitted in the television bands (including 87.9 MHz, which falls within the 82.0 to 88.0 Channel 6 television band). Fines and/or criminal prosecution may result from illegal operation of an unlicensed station.

Application Filing Fees. For commercial AM, FM, and TV broadcast station applications, filing fees must be paid with the submission of any application. These fees are detailed in the Media Bureau Fee Filing Guide, which may be retrieved through the Internet at

Mutually Exclusive Commercial Auctions.Where conflicts occur between mutually exclusive commercial applicants (that is to say, where interference would be created between applicants were all applications to be granted), the conflict will be resolved by means of an auction. The auction process was mandated by Congress and the President in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Fees and auction payments collected by the FCC are directed to the U.S. Treasury.

Information about the auction process is available on the Internet at (see also the general information about auctions). Please note that we cannot provide advance information as to when an auction or application filing window for a particular service might be opened. However, notice of an auction proceeding or an application filing window period will be posted on this website.

Mutually Exclusive Noncommercial Educational Applications. Noncommercial educational station conflicts with other timely filed noncommercial educational applicants (i.e., where interference would be created between stations were all applications to be granted) will be resolved through the application of a point system. The point system is described in the Report and Order in MM Docket 95-31, FCC 00-120, released April 21, 2000 [ PDF | Word | txt ]. See also the Memorandum Opinion and Order, MM Docket 95-31, FCC 01-64, released February 28, 2001 [ PDF | Word | txt ], [ Appendix D (PDF); Appendix D (Word) ].

The Media Bureau will announce a filing window period during which new radio station applications and major change applications may be filed. Filing window announcements will be made via public notice, and notice will also be posted on this website.

FM Commercial Radio Stations

FM commercial stations may be authorized on 92.1 MHz to 107.9 MHz, corresponding to Channels 221 through 300. Noncommercial educational FM stations may also be authorized in this band but such applications must meet the spacing, city coverage, and other technical criteria applicable to commercial stations.

Allotment Required for FM Commercial Stations. An allotment must be created before applications can be accepted for commercial FM stations. The allotment is a set of reference coordinates which meet the spacing requirements to other U.S., Canadian, and Mexican stations. These spacing requirements, which are contained in rule section 47 CFR 73.207, may be viewed at The allotment coordinates must also provide for a minimum signal strength of 70 dBu over 100% of the area of the community of license, using the maximum reference effective radiated power and antenna height for the FM station class.

As FM commercial allotments are adopted by the Commission, they are added to the Table of Allotments (47 CFR 73.202). For each new allotment, an application filing window will be opened at some future date, during which applications on FCC Form 301 must be filed.

Applicants may petition the Commission to add new FM commercial allotments. There is no form on which a petition for rulemaking must be filed. Each petition should contain:

  1. the community of license for which the channel is sought;
  2. the frequency or channel;
  3. a set of reference coordinates proposed for the allotment (latitude and longitude);
  4. and an expression of interest in applying for the channel, if it is allocated.

Only proposed allotments which meet the spacing and city coverage criteria will be put out for public comment. Other parties will then have an opportunity to file comments or counterproposals to the proposed allotment.

Once the comment period is closed, the Commission will then make new allotments in keeping with its existing procedures. No finders’ preference is made either at the allotment rulemaking or at the application stage.

Form to Use, Application Filing Fee. Once the auction filing window dates are announced for allotments which were created previously, instructions for filing applications will be released on a Public Notice, which will also be placed on the FCC’s Internet site. Please note the we cannot provide advance information as to when the next auction or application filing window might take place. (General information about auctions.)

FM Noncommercial Educational Stations

FM noncommercial commercial stations may be authorized on 88.1 MHz to 91.9 MHz, corresponding to Channels 201 through 220. No commercial operation is permitted on these frequencies. FM noncommercial educational stations may also be authorized in the commercial FM band under the technical rules applying to that service (see the preceding section). Contour protection is used to determine if interference will exist to other stations (see 47 CFR 73.509).

No allotment; no contour overlap. For noncommercial educational stations on Channels 201 through 220, no allotment will be established. Allocation is made via an on-demand system, with applicants receiving construction permits for facilities which will not cause interference to other stations. Interference calculations are made using specified signal strength contours, where protected service contours (think of a rough circle at some distance from the transmitter site) for one station generally cannot overlap the interfering contours for another station (see rule section 47 CFR 73.509). Applicants must also protect pending applications which were filed before the announcement of the application filing window.


The Media Bureau will announce a  filing window period during which new noncommercial educational station applications and major change applications may be filed. Filing window announcements will be made on this website.

 Low Power FM Radio Stations

Low power FM stations operate with 1 to 100 watts of power and cover a radius of approximately 5.6 km (3.5 miles).

Applications for new LPFM stations may only be filed during the dates specified for an  application filing window. Applications received at other times will be returned without consideration. We cannot provide advance information as to when the next application filing window may be, but when announcement is made, it will be posted on this website.

Translator FM Radio Stations

FM translator stations rebroadcast existing FM stations to small areas. Noncommercial educational FM translators may be authorized on any frequency, while FM translators rebroadcasting commercial stations must stay on frequencies from 92.1 MHz to 107.9 MHz (Channels 221 to 300). Translator stations are prohibited from transmitting any programming not also transmitted on the originating or primary station at the same time.

Noncommercial applicants are not required to submit the application filing fee. Noncommercial FM translator applications for new stations must be filed (in triplicate) with the Office of the Secretary, Room TW B204, FCC, 445 12th Street SW, Washington, DC 20554.

NOTICE: APPLICATIONS FOR NEW COMMERCIAL OR NONCOMMERCIAL EDUCATIONAL TRANSLATORS MAY NOT BE FILED AT THE PRESENT TIME. The Media Bureau will announce a filing window period at intervals during which new station applications and major change applications may be filed. Filing window announcements will be made via public notice, and notice will also be posted on this website.

Applicants Must Give Local Public Notice

All applicants for new broadcast stations (except LPFM) must give local notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the community in which the station is to be licensed. They must also afford an opportunity for the public to file comments on these applications with the Commission. Copies of the application must be maintained in the station’s public files or at a location accessible to the public in the community where the station is proposed, for example a public library or post office. Licensees who submit a license renewal application must give local public notice of the filing by broadcasting announcements over their stations.