|Technical STA Requests
|Silent Station STA Requests
AM and FM Radio
The Commission's rules provide for immediate restoration of operation for broadcast stations when licensed transmission systems have been damaged and cannot be used. See Section 73.1680, Emergency Antennas. Some important points about emergency antennas:
- Licensees may resume operation with emergency antennas without prior authority from the FCC.
- A request for an STA to continue use of the emergency antenna must be filed within 24 hours of commencing operation. This request must be filed electronically in the MS database system, and is feeable for commercial licensees. See the LMS Help Center for filing procedures.
- The emergency antenna must be at or close to the licensed site (See Site Change Policy, below).
- FM and TV licensees may erect any suitable radiator or use operable sections of the authorized antenna. AM stations may use a horizontal or vertical wire, or a single element of a licensed directional array, as an emergency antenna.
- AM stations licensed for directional operation must reduce power to 25% or less of licensed directional power when operating nondirectionally on an emergency basis, unless higher power will not exceed the licensed directional pattern.
Special Temporary Authority
When a broadcast station cannot operate in accordance with its license due to equipment failure, damage to licensed transmission systems, or other causes, the station may request an STA. Section 73.1635 of the rules governs STA operation; other related rule parts are 73.1680 (emergency antennas); 73.1560 (reduced power); 73.62 (AM directional antennas) 73.1740 (reduced hours). We strongly recommend that, whenever possible, you file STA requests electronically. Paper filing remains available for use in circumstances where e-filing is not possible, such as when internet service is disrupted, however, STA requests filed on paper will be processed much more slowly than e-filed requests.
STA Electronic Filing Instructions
- All broadcast stations may file STA requests electronically via Media Bureau’s LMS system. See the LMS Help Center page for related information. On the main e-filing forms page, scroll to the bottom and select the link to "Additional Non-form Filings."
- Any STA that involves operation with technical facilities at variance from the license is an "Engineering STA." The "Legal STA" category is used for main studio waivers, operation with formerly licensed facilities and other non-technical variances. If in doubt, select the "Engineering STA" form.
- It is not necessary to fill in the technical information sections of the STA form when operating with the licensed antenna system. Most STA requests, such as reduced power operation, fall into this category.
STA Site Change Policy
STA requests that involve a change in transmitter site must meet these criteria:
- Loss of the licensed site must be beyond the licensee's control.
- STA facilities must continue to provide service to the licensed community.
- STA facilities must maintain, as closely as practicable, the licensed service area without extending it.
- STA facilities cannot involve the construction of towers intended for permanent use by the station requesting the STA.
AM Directional Stations
AM directional antennas are complex, and filing an STA for such an AM directional station can be confusing for attorneys and licensees without engineering backgrounds. Listed below are the three most common kinds of STA for AM directional stations, with rule parts and descriptions:
- Reduced power. Section 73.1560(d). The licensed antenna system is in operation. All monitor points are within limits and the antenna monitor readings are as licensed. (Note: if the power is low enough, the antenna monitor can't be calibrated, but if it can, it should give the right numbers.) This STA usually means the transmitter has been damaged or some antenna system component will not operate at full power, but otherwise the antenna system is okay.
- Parameters at variance and/or reduced power while maintaining monitor points within licensed limits. Sections 73.62(c)(2), (c)(4) and (d). The directional antenna system has minor damage, but it is still operating directionally; possibly something is reradiating the signal. A reduction in power and/or small adjustments in the operating parameters are necessary to keep the monitor points below limits.
- Emergency/temporary operation with a nondirectional antenna and reduced power not to exceed 25 percent of licensed directional power. Sections 73.1680(b)(1); 73.1615(b)(3). Monitor points might exceed licensed limits, and the antenna monitor will not give the licensed readings. This mode of operation should be limited to circumstances in which the station cannot operate directionally, such as a tower collapse, phasing/coupling equipment failure or during construction/repair work that precludes directional operation.
Pursuant to Section 73.1740 of the Commission's rules, broadcast stations may remain silent for up to 10 days without Commission authority. If the station is or will be silent for up to 30 days, the Commission must be notified (by letter) that the station is silent. If the station will be or has been silent for more than 30 days, the licensee must request Special Temporary Authority (STA) to remain silent. However, the Commission can not grant an STA to remain silent unless the reason for the station's silence is beyond the control of the licensee. A request for an STA to remain silent may be either electronically filed or submitted in letter form. The request must be signed by an officer or director of the licensee. If the request is submitted in letter form, an anti-drug certification must be attached and signed by an officer or director of the licensee. There are no filing fees associated with a request for an STA to remain silent.
Silent STAs, at the staff's discretion, may be granted up to 180 days. If a station is or will be silent beyond the expiration of its STA, a request to extend the STA must be submitted at the time of expiration. The requirements for extension of an STA to remain silent are the same as the for the initial request. However, a licensee must explain in the extension request what efforts it has made to return the station to operation during the period of its STA and why an extension is needed. Stations may remain silent for no more than one year. The licenses of stations remaining silent for more than one year are considered by the Commission to have automatically expired as a matter of law pursuant to Section 312(g) of the Communications Act.
The staff does not post a list of silent stations, but you can generate such a list. The procedure is outlined at Silent AM and FM Broadcast Stations. Be advised that the fact a station is silent does not automatically imply that the station is available for purchase from the licensee.
For more information on AM and FM radio broadcasting, please visit the Audio Division website, and the Broadcast Radio Links page.
For more information on Television broadcasting, please visit the Video Division website.
FCC > Media Bureau > Audio Division, (202) 418-2700, and Video Division, (202) 418-1600.