FAQ: If the geographic coordinates on the permit/license are incorrect or if I need to make a very short move of the tower site, do I still need a Construction Permit?
In the full-service, for nondirectional stations, a modification of license application can be filed to correct geographic coordinates up to 3 seconds in latitude and/or up to 3 seconds in longitude [§73.1690(b)(2)]. The actual distance will vary based on the curivature of the earth, but is normally about 300~350 feet in latitude and 200~250 feet in longitude. Any changes or corrections to full-service directional anennas will require construction permit.
In the FM Translator service, any horizontal change, other than those that require FAA notification can be made to up to 500 feet from the authorized coordinates without a construction permit. [§74.1251(b)(5)]
However in LPFM, §73.875(b)(2) requires the filing of a Modification of Licensed Facility application (formerly known as Form 318) to be filed for any change in station geographic coordinates, including coordinate corrections as well as any changes to another tower at the same coordinates.
It is also important to remember that when a station is operating with unauthorized facilities, whether it is for location, or heights, or channel, the time that the station had engaged in unauthorized operation can be seen equivalent to operating "silent" and thus subject to the Section 312(g) of the Communications Act, which states that stations that fail to transmit signals for a period of more than 365 consecutive days shall be subject to license cancellation. The FCC is, in the past, interpreted this law to include unauthorized operation.
We remind the LPFM community that the FCC has previous issued Notices of Violation, issued forfeitures and even cancelled licenses for stations operating at unauthorized locations:
- In 2018, the FCC issued a Notice of Violation to American Multi-Media Syndicate, Inc. for operating an LPFM station 3.88 miles from their authorized location.
- In 2019, the FCC cancelled the license for Chinese Voice of Golden City after determining that the station operated from unauthorized locations, including one as short as 256 feet away from its authorized location.
- In 2020, the FCC proposed a forfeiture to Jupiter Community Radio for various violations, including operating the station at a location one-third of a mile (1,742 feet) from it's authorized location.
Therefore, it is very important that applications have the correct coordinates on them. Organizations considering receiving an LPFM station from another organization through the assignment of license process should perform due diligence prior to agreeing to acquire the station to assure that the station is operating at their authorized location as the receiving organization may suddenly become responsible for the previous owner's mistakes.
LPFM is not CB radio. You just can't pick up the station and move it anywhere. You must have authorization to operate from your exact coordinates. The FCC does give an allowance on antenna height above ground between 2 meters higher and 4 meters lower than the authorized vertical height [§73.875(b)(3)] but there is no allowance of horizontal location.