We need to shut down the station temporarily. What do we do next?
If the LPFM is licensed to an accredited educational institution, either public or private, secular or faith-based or to a school district, college or university system and the school has been closed to instruction and student access, this constitutes a change to the school calendar and LPFM and full-service NCE stations are not required to file a silent special temporary authority (STA) under what we call “the recess rule”. Stations should make notes in their station log when the station was off the air and when it came back on.
If the LPFM is licensed to a non-accredited educational institution, a non-profit educational organization, church, ministry or a public sector agency (except school districts), this would be a reportable silent period. Make a note in the station log of when the station shut down and when it returns to the air. This log data should be maintained until the next renewal as it will need to be disclosed in the renewal.
Due to the lack of language in §73.850, LPFM stations are not required to file a silent notification or silent STA. We strongly suggest as a general courtesy to the Commission to go ahead and file a silent notification (if planning to be down for 11 to 30 days) or a silent STA (if planning to be down for more than 30 days). Even if an LPFM station does not have to a silent, they must report their downtime at the time of the next license renewal. In addition, if the Commission suspects a station has been silent for more than one year (e.g. they receive a complaint suggesting it), the Commission may send an Operational Status Inquiry to the station. If an OSI is sent, the station must respond and show evidence that the station was on the air (showing electric bills or other documentation). Remember, if your station does file a silent notification or STA, please remember to file a notice of resumption of operations (which can be found in CDBS) once the station is back on the air.
NCE stations (that are not licensed to schools), commercial FM stations and FM translators
Per your service’s rules, stations are required to file a silent notification in the event that the anticipated silent period is 11 to 30 days and a silent STA if the period is expected to be 30 days or longer. Remember to file a resumption of operations when the station returns to the air and remember to keep the details of the silence in your station log as it will need to be disclosed at renewal time.
Stations silent for more than 180 days
Normally, silent STAs are granted for 180 days. If it is anticipated the station will remain off the air for more than 180 days, the station should file for an extension of the STA about 30 days before the expiration of the STA.
Regardless of the STA expiration dates, Section 312(g) of the Communications Act states that a broadcasting station that fails to transmit broadcast signals for any consecutive 12-month period, then the station’s license shall expire at the end of that period. There are provisions for judicial and administrative reviews as well as “tolling” available for issues beyond the control of the licensee (mainly acts of God).
47 CFR §73.1740(a)(4) (Commercial FM)