Mutually Exclusive Applications & Time Sharing

Updated April 7, 2020

When the FCC has a filing window, there's a possibility that two or more applicatons were filed that would not be able to be granted because each application would specify facilities that would conflict with each other. These applications are referred to as "mutually exclusive" or "MX" for short. To address these situations, the FCC has put procedures in place to process these applications.

Special circumstance where MX applications can be dismissed

Traveler's Information Service - Public safety agencies (public sector) can waive the ownership limit rules for LPFM stations as long as each station is located within their juristiction and the applications do not meet any competing applications. Public safety users can designate a single "priority" application that would not be automatically dismissed but will more forward in the MX resolution process. (See 73.855(b)(4))

In the past, student operated LPFM stations at educational institutions that already have a FM, AM or TV broadcast license would have their LPFM application dismissed if there were competiting applications.  Through the work of REC Networks, we were able to get the FCC to recognize the importance of student-radio in the current environment of student excluisve public radio stations.  Student operated stations will now be able to compete for points and join time share groups.

The Point System

When the FCC declares that a group of applications are MX, they will use a point system to determine the most qualified applicants. Points are earned as follows:

Established Community Presence - For a period of at least two years prior to the filing window, organizations that have at least 75% of it's board members living within 10 miles of the proposed transmitting antenna.

Local Program Origination - Applicant pledges to originate at least 8 hours a day of local programming. Local programming is considered produced within 10 miles of the transmitting antenna. The FCC considers "local programming" as:

  • Licensee produced call-in shows,
  • Music slected and played by a DJ present on site,
  • Broadcasts of events at local schools,
  • Broadcasts of musical performances at a local studio or festival, whether recorded or live.

Local origination does not include the broadcast of repetitive or automated programs or time-shifted recordings of non-local programming whatever its source.  In addition, local programming does not include a local program that has been broadcast twice even if the licensee broadcasts the program on a different day or makes small variations in the program.

Main Studio - Applicant pledges to maintain a publicaly available main studio with local program origination capability.  The studio must be reachable by telephone and is staffed at least 20 hours per week between 7AM and 10PM.  Studio must be located within 10 miles of the transmitting antenna in the top 50 urban markets and within 20 miles elsewhere.

Local Programming and Main Studio bonus point - Applicants who can pledge local programming and main studio can claim an extra point for a total of three points.

Diversity of Ownership - Applicat does not hold any attributable interest in any other broadcast station (for example, a translator owner obtaining an LPFM facility or a student operated station operated by an institution with other broadcast holdings).

Tribal Applicant - Organization must be at least 51% tribal-owned and operated and the transmitter site must be on tribal land.

Voluntary Time Sharing

If there are two or three conflicting applications, the FCC will allow applicants to propose a voluntary time sharing agreement.   If all conflicting applicants agree to a time share arrangement, the FCC will consider them tentative selectees for the channel otherwise in the case of partial settlements, those points will be aggregated (added up between the multiple applicants) and the group with the most points will be the tentative selectee.

No more than 3 applicants can be in a time share group.

Involuntary Time Sharing

If the tie can not be broken through voluntary time sharing, the FCC will invoke involuntary time sharing on the applicants.  If there are more than 3 applicants in the group, the top-3 applicants based on length of community presence will remain in the group while the remaining applications will be dismissed.

The FCC will designate the following time slots:

If there are two tied applicants: If there are three tied applicants:

3:00 AM ~ 2:59 PM
3:00 PM ~ 2:59 AM

2:00 AM ~ 9:59 AM
10:00 AM ~ 5:59 PM
5:59 PM ~ 1:59 AM

Each remaining proponent will rank their choice and the applicant with the longest community presence will get their first preference.

All licenses that are granted through involuntary time sharing are non-renewable unless a voluntary time share agreement is eventually reached, even if the schedule is the same.

Successive License Terms (first window 2000/2001 only)

Successive license terms are no longer used.  For historical purposes, we will keep the information here:

When after a settlement opportunity has been given and there is still a tie for the most qualified applicant, the FCC will declare a tie and grant construction permits to all parties.

Once the station is built, the license will be granted for a portion of the 8 year license based on the number of applicants in the tie. For example, if there were two different groups, each group would get a 4 year license. When each station can go on the air is based on when their full license is granted.

Successive licenses are NOT RENEWABLE.

LPFM applicants reaching this point run the risk that once they build their station, they may have to wait up to 7 years before they can broadcast.

If after a settlement window, there are more than 8 equally qualified applicants, the FCC will find the 8 most qualified applicants based on how long the organization has been established. If there are still over 8 equally qualified applicants, the FCC will dismiss the entire group.


FCC rules regarding time sharing can be found in 73.872.