The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provides the following information regarding low power FM (88 - 108
MHz) radio broadcast stations. For the latest information, go to the
Low Power FM Radio (LPFM)
FCC Consumer FactsBackground
In January 2000, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) created a special class of radio licenses
called Low Power FM Radio (LPFM). The LPFM service is designed to create opportunities for new voices to be heard
on the radio. The service consists of two types of radio stations: 100-watt stations, which reach an area with a
radius of approximately three and one-half miles, and 10-watt stations, which generally reach an area with a
radius of between one and two miles.Who is Eligible for LPFM Licenses?
To get an
LPFM license, you must be:
- A government or non-profit educational institution, like a public or private school or state or
private university; or
- A non-profit organization, association or entity with an educational purpose, like a community
group, public service or public health organization, disability service provider or faith-based
- A government or non-profit entity providing local public safety or transportation service, like a
volunteer fire department, local government or state transportation authority.
In addition, applicants for LPFM licenses must be based in the community in which they intend to broadcast.
An organization is considered community-based if:
Who is Not Eligible for LPFM Licenses?
- It is physically headquartered or has a campus within 10 miles of the proposed transmitting antenna;
- Seventy-five percent of its governing board resides within 10 miles of the proposed transmitting
- It is a non-profit or governmental public safety organization that intends to broadcast within the
area of its jurisdiction.
LPFM licenses cannot be issued to individual or commercial entities. Also, existing broadcasters, cable
television system operators, newspaper publishers, and other media entities are not eligible for LPFM licenses.
How Can I Apply for an LPFM Station?
The FCC has developed a computer software
program (“LPFM Channel Finder”) to help potential LPFM applicants find an available channel in their area. The FCC
will first accept applications for 100-watt stations, followed by applications for 10-watt stations.
FCC will give at least 30 days notice, via a Public Notice and/or the FCC Web site at
when a filing window is available in your state. There is no cost to file an application for a permit to
construct an LPFM station or a license to operate an LPFM station. A construction permit issued by the FCC is
required before an applicant is allowed to construct an LPFM station and a license issued by the FCC is required
before operation of an LPFM station can begin.
If there are conflicting LPFM applications in the same
area, competing applications will be resolved through a process that awards one point to each applicant for:
- the organization’s presence in the community for at least two years;
- an obligation to broadcast at least 12 hours each day; and
- an obligation to broadcast at least eight hours of locally-originated programming each day.
The applicant with the most points will receive the construction permit.
If there is a tie after the points are tallied, the competing applicants will be encouraged to share
a license. Formerly-competing applicants who resubmit their applications together will be permitted to total their
points and compare their total with any other applicant for a license. How Much Does it Cost to
Construct an LPFM Station?
The construction and operating costs of an LPFM radio station can vary
widely, depending on the type and quality of studio and broadcasting equipment used, as well as by whether a tower
may be required. More information on the availability and costs of radio equipment is available from a variety of
sources, such as electronics periodicals. How Does My Organization Apply?
Applications for new LPFM stations, construction permits, or for major changes to LPFM
permits or licenses may only be filed during the dates specified for an application filing window. Such
applications may only be filed via the Media Bureau’s electronic filing system at
application will be returned, without consideration, if it is received at a time outside the filing window.
For More Information
For more information about LPFM radio stations, visit the FCC’s Media Bureau at
. For information about other
communications issues, visit the FCC’s Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau Web site at
, or contact the FCC’s Consumer Center
; calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322)
voice or 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) TTY; faxing 1-866-418-0232; or writing to:
Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau
Consumer Inquiries and Complaints
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, D.C. 20554. For this or any
other consumer publication in an accessible format (electronic ASCII text, Braille, large print, or audio) please
write or call us at the address or phone number below, or send an e-mail to
FCC504@fcc.gov. To receive information on this and other
FCC consumer topics through the Commission's electronic subscriber service, visit
www.fcc.gov/cgb/contacts/. This document is
for consumer education purposes only and is not intended to affect any proceeding or cases involving this subject
matter or related issues.