How do I start a LPTV Station?
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 (take me to the LPTV Channel Search Agreement).
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? Click here to download the LPTV Channel Search Agreement.
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.
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.
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.
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