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FACT SHEET ON BUILDING A HIGH FREQUENCY (SHORTWAVE) INTERNATIONAL BROADCASTING STATION

Any qualified US citizen, company, or group may apply to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for authority to construct and operate a high frequency (HF) (shortwave) international broadcasting station. Licensing of these facilities is prescribed by the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, which sets up certain basic requirements. In general, applicants must satisfy the Commission that they are legally, technically, and financially qualified, to build and operate the proposed HF international broadcasting station.

The application procedure for an international broadcasting station is described in Subpart D, Part 1, of the FCC Rules and Regulations [47 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR)]. The rules pertaining to the requirements and procedures for establishing an international broadcasting station are found in Sections 73.701 - 73.788, Subpart F, Part 73 of the FCC Rules. Copies of the complete rules may be purchased from the Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

Application for a construction permit should be filed on FCC Form 309 and application for license, upon completion of construction, on FCC Form 310. The forms are available from the FCC at 1-800- 418-FORM (3676). Showings must accompany these forms indicating compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (see Section 1.1301 - 1.1319 of the FCC Rules), including how the general public and employees will be protected from radio frequency radiation hazards (see Sections 1.1306 & 1.1307).

There are filing fees associated with these forms. Authority to collect fees is contained in Section 1.1101, and the specific fees are contained in Section 1.1107 of the FCC Rules. You may click here to get to the FCC Filing Fee Web page. On this page you may chick the appropreiate format of the International Bureau Fee Filing Guide. Additionally, there is an Annual Regulatory Fee(see Section 1.1151 of the FCC Rules) charged all licensees. You may click here to get the FCC Regulatory Fee Web Page. On this page you may chick the appropreiate formation of the Public Notice for International and Satellite Services. The appropriate form and its associated fee, along with FCC Form 159 (FCC Remittance Advice Form) and the correct fee code (MSN for form 309 and MNN for form 310) should be mailed to the Federal Communication Commission, International Bureau - Notifications, P.O. Box 358175, Pittsburgh, PA. 15251-5175.

It should be noted that an international broadcasting station is intended for broadcasting to a foreign country and is not intended for broadcasting solely to the United States. The minimum transmitter output power required is 50 kilowatts (kW) and a directional antenna is required with a minimum gain of 10 decibels (dB). Most existing stations have a transmitter power greater than 50 kW and an antenna gain greater than 10 db in an attempt to overcome the increasing congestion and interference in the limited frequency spectrum allocated to this service. As a result, applicants should also submit with their application a propagation analysis, based on the proposed transmitter output power and antenna gain, showing that an acceptable signal strength will reach the intended target area(s).

Because of the complexity of building and operating an international broadcasting station most applicants obtain expert engineering and legal consultation. After the station is authorized and commences operation, there may be continuing need for professional frequency management because the available spectrum is extremely congested and the operating frequencies are requested by the applicant (along with a fee) on a seasonal basis.

Currently, operating stations submit frequency requests (along with the appropriate fees) to the FCC twice yearly. Frequency selection should take into consideration possible interference to and from international broadcasters of other countries and propagation conditions that vary throughout the day and seasonally. These frequency requests are coordinated by the FCC with international broadcasters of other countries to minimize mutual interference. After coordination, stations are issued frequency authorizations twice a year by the FCC specifying the time and frequency of each transmission.

Individuals or groups considering building and operating an international broadcasting station should consider the quality of service the station may provide given the extremely congested frequencies currently available and the high cost of the station. The cost of a station with a minimum transmitter power of 50 kW and a directional antenna with a minimum gain of 10 dB, the land for the station, the studios, and the operational cost could easily exceed one million dollars.

In pursuing your interest in obtaining a license to operate an HF international broadcasting station, it is suggested that you first obtain and thoroughly read the Rules and Regulations mentioned above. If you have any further questions concerning the filing of an application or any questions about requesting frequencies and frequency coordination please contact Thomas Polzin at (202) 418-2148.



last reviewed/updated on 12/19/02 


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