FAQ: Since the rules do not allow an LPFM station to also be the licensee of a full-service FM station, how can we file in the NCE window?
An LPFM licensee can file in the NCE filing window. However, in order to do so, they must disclose the fact that they are currently the licensee of an LPFM station and that in the event of a grant of a NCE construction permit, that they will divest their LPFM station license prior to commencing program testing of the NCE facility.
Divestiture of an LPFM station license can be done in one of two ways:
- Surrender of license. Simply put, your organization cancels the LPFM license by filing a license cancellation application in LMS at the same time (or prior) to filing a license to cover application for the full-service station.
- Assignment of license. In this scenario, the LPFM license is transferred to a different organization. In this case, you should allow 60 days from the time that the assignment application is filed to when you can expect a grant. All assignment applications are subject to a 30 day public notice hold. After the hold, the staff will evaluate the application to determine its grantability. Keep in mind that the assignment application grant may be delayed due to a weak educational statement for the assignee (new) organization or in the event of objections or other reasons. This is why it is important to start the assignment process soon after receiving the NCE construction permit grant. Once the assignment application is granted, the actual transaction of transferring the station to the assignee may take place. Once that takes place and the new organization has control of the application, the assignor (current licensee) will need to file a Consummation Notice with the FCC to inform that the transaction has taken place. Once the Consummation Notice is filed, then the LPFM is officially divested. The Consummation Notice can be filed simultaneously with the License to Cover application for the NCE construction permit.
It is important to remember that NCE grantees read the conditions on their granted construction permit document. LPFM licensees involved in a divestiture will not be given automatic program test authority. If the permit specifies that program test authority is not authorized, you are not able to just turn on the NCE transmitter. Instead, read the wording of the condition to determine if program testing is authorized once one of the two bullet point processes shown above are completed or if the FCC must grant that program test authority in a different manner. There may also be other conditions on the permit that prevent program test without prior approval from the FCC, such as in cases where there is a directional antenna and a proof of performance is required.
Local Diversity of Ownership Point
Current LPFM licensees that pledge to divest their stations prior to program test are permitted to claim the 2 points for Local Diversity of Ownership as long as the LPFM licensee meets the other requirements (such as it does not have a commonly owned FM translator that places a 70 dBu contour that overlaps the 70 dBu contour of the proposed NCE station).
A new Educational Statement is not required
If an LPFM licensee is seeking a full-service NCE station, they have already been determined to be a noncommercial educational qualified applicant. There is a field in LMS where the applicant will need to place the file number of the application that was granted that determined their NCE applicant status. This file number would be either:
- For LPFM organizations that are the original licensee of the LPFM facility: The file number of their granted construction permit. This would be the file number that begins with BNPL. If you need to look that up, you can go to FCCdata.org.
- For LPFM organizations that acquired the station from another organization: The file number of the granted assignment application. For older applications (such as prior to 2021), this would be the file number that begins with BALL. For LMS handled assignment applications, it would be the file number. You can find this file number in FCCdata.org.
For more information on the NCE process, see our NCE Station Information Sheet: