For the first time in over a decade, the Federal Communications Commission will accept applications for new noncommercial educational (NCE) FM radio station licenses. The 2021 NCE FM filing window, open from November 2 through November 9, 2021, represents a rare opportunity for educational institutions and organizations to obtain FM broadcast licenses.
The FCC has provided detailed information about the filing requirements and evaluation procedures for applicants. Applicants must meet eligibility requirements, including certifying that they are either nonprofit educational institutions or organizations, or governmental entities, and that the proposed NCE FM stations will be used for the advancement of an educational program. If multiple applicants submit applications that are mutually exclusive (MX), the FCC will award licenses using a “Fair Distribution of Service” analysis; a point system analysis based on public interest factors; and, if necessary, a tie-breaker based on other applicant data and certifications. No individual or organization can have an attributable interest in more than 10 applications filed in the window.
Competition for new licenses is expected to be high, so applicants should plan in advance.
To prepare for the new NCE FM filing window, the FCC will impose a limited application filing freeze between October 5 and November 9 for reserved band minor change applications and amendments.
If you have questions about the 2021 NCE FM filing window or are interested in applying for a new noncommercial educational FM radio station license, contact any attorney in our office.