How to apply for a basic FCC License for Wireless Microphones used in Motion Picture & TV Production

An FCC license can be obtained by any US citizen intending to operate within the US and its territories for a fee of $150. Filling out the application form is fairly complex and it must be letter perfect in order to be processed by the FCC. Two possible ways to get a license are to . . .

  • PAY A PROFESSIONAL TO FILE THE APPLICATION FOR YOU
    Bill Ruck, a Broadcast Engineer in San Francisco who holds Broadcast Auxiliary Low Power Radio Station Authorization WQMP992 and an FCC General Radiotelephone License, can prepare the application for you for a fee of about $100, plus the $165 filing fee. Bill is extremely knowledgeable about the application procedure and his services are highly recommended. Contact Bill at 415-564-1450 or billruck@earthlink.net
  • DO IT YOURSELF BY FOLLOWING THE STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS BELOW
    The instructions below should be sufficient for individuals who fit the most common profile of sound professionals in the motion picture and television industry. The guidance presented here is offered as a convenience to you but because circumstances vary and FCC rules change, we cannot guarantee that your application will be approved.

STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS

[Your experience will help us improve these instructions. Please give us your feedback.]

Before you Begin…

  • NOTE:  The FCC’s website says that their application form is compatible with Windows XP through Windows 7 (and probably 10)… and not with Linux, Unix or Macintosh.  In spite of that warning, some Macintosh users have succeeded.  Please read some feedback we received from Mac users.
  • NOTE:  The FCC’s old java applet may require a version of Java that’s older than the one you have.  A workaround is to backgrade Java to an older version (6u45), but Firefox users find that the recent Firefox versions block older Java versions.  If you still have the patience for this, one workaround is to backgrade Firefox a couple of versions.  A much easier alternative is to follow instructions here http://www.itninja.com/question/how-to-disable-firefox-blocking-of-old-java to disable Firefox’s blocking of old versions of Java.
  • The instructions below pertain to the online form and are not intended for the preparation of the printed application.
  • The online application applies error-checking as you move from page to page, bringing certain types of errors to your attention. While working on any page, you can also click the Check Errors button at the lower left to spot-check as you go.
  • As you progress through the nine-page online application, remember that the data you enter is all just a “work in progress” until you’re finally ready to hit the SUBMIT button, sending the full application to the FCC. Use the NEXT PAGE and PREVIOUS PAGE buttons to navigate from page to page but DO NOT click SUBMIT until you’re really done with all nine pages. After you do submit it, you’ll have a chance to Review the completed application and Print/Save a PDF for your records.
  • The online application can take about an hour to complete. If you don’t finish in one session, the FCC website retains your application for 30 days. You can resume working on it during that time if you login to the FCC site and then over on the right side where it says “Work on this Application”, click “Continue”.
  • The Java applet running the FCC online application is known to be buggy.  If it hangs or crashes:
    • Try reloading the page.
    • If that doesn’t help, quit the applet altogether and then restart it by logging in to the main FCC page again.
    • Try a different web browser and if that fails, try a different computer if you have access to one.
    • The FCC has a help page that doesn’t address enough issues but it is still worth looking a look at: http://esupport.fcc.gov/index.htm?job=getting_connected
  • The FCC’s online filing system is down for regular system maintenance daily between 12 midnight and 2:00 a.m. Eastern Time (ET). You won’t be able to work on your application during those hours.

Getting Started

  1. If you don’t already have an FCC Registration Number (FRN), you need to get one. This allows the FCC to isolate your Social Security number from FCC records and will be necessary for any communications you have with the FCC in the future. An individual can only be assigned one and only one FRN. To get an FRN . . .
    1. Go here http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=home
    2. Click New Users – Register.
    3. Click Register.
    4. Fill in your name and contact info and choose a password.
    5. Write the password someplace safe.
    6. After you submit the form, they’ll give you your FRN. Write the FRN someplace safe.
    7. Once you have the FRN, go to http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=home
  2. Select Online Filing – Log In and then log in using the FRN and password.
  3. On the left, select Apply for a New License.
  4. Where it asks you to Select the Radio Service for the new license, choose LP – Broadcast Auxilliary Low Power from the dropdown list and then click Continue.
  5. When it asks if you have a Parent Station, select No.
  6. At this point, you will encounter a series of pop-up messages about Java and certificates and permissions. Be agreeable and be patient until the Java applet that runs the application form finally loads.  Note: If the applet won’t start, you may need to adjust your computer’s Java security settings by following instructions here http://www.java.com/en/download/help/jcp_security.xml to verify that Enable Java Content in the Browser has been checked and to possibly lower your security setting from Very High to High or from High to Medium.
  7. If all went well, the next thing you’ll see is the 9-page Application Form. At the top of the page, you’ll see that you’re currently on the APPLICATION INFORMATION tab.

    The APPLICATION INFORMATION tab

  8. Beneath where it says Application Purpose, the first paragraph of text will say If this application is for a Developmental License…. In the drop-down list to the right of that paragraph, select N (for “not applicable”).
  9. Moving down a few paragraphs to where it says Does this application include a request for Waiver of the Commission’s rules?, select No.
  10. Where it says Are the frequencies covered by grandfathered privileges?, select No.
  11. Toward the right, where it says Are attachments being filed with this application?, select Yes.
  12. Where it says Regulatory Status, select Private internal communications.
  13. Where it says Type of Radio Service, select Mobile.
  14. Where it says Does the applicant propose to provide service interconnected to the public telephone network?, select No.
  15. Under Fee Status, where it says Is the applicant exempt from FCC application fees?, select No.
  16. Under Fee Status, where it says Is the applicant exempt from FCC regulatory fees?, select No.
  17. At the bottom, click Next Page to be taken to the APPLICANT tab.

    The APPLICANT tab

  18. Where it says Legal Entity Type, you probably want to select Individual or perhaps Corporation or maybe one of the other choices but you most likely want to avoid Other because it will require explanation.
  19. Enter Name and Attention and Address and Phone and Email and Contact Information.
  20. Demographic information is optional.
  21. At the bottom, click Next Page to be taken to the OWNERSHIP QUESTIONS/QUALIFICATIONS QUESTIONS tab.

    The OWNERSHIP QUESTIONS/QUALIFICATIONS QUESTIONS tab

  22. On this page, it is best to be able to say No to all questions but if you do need to answer Yes to any of them, you’ll need to do your own research or contact a communications lawyer before proceeding.
  23. At the bottom, click Next Page to be taken to the GENERAL CERTIFICATION STATEMENTS tab.

    The GENERAL CERTIFICATION STATEMENTS tab

  24. Enter name as directed.
  25. Where it says Title, enter Owner.
  26. Notice the message towards the bottom of the page that reminds you that willful or false statements are punishable by fine or imprisonment.
  27. At the bottom, click Next Page to be taken to the CONTROL POINT tab.

    The CONTROL POINT tab

  28. This refers to the location where the FCC can contact you if interference is reported. On the left, click Add and then enter your info… probably your home address… and be sure to enter the County. You must have at least one Control Point but you can click Add if you wish to add more.
  29. At the bottom, click Next Page to be taken to the ADMINISTRATIVE tab.

    The ADMINISTRATIVE tab

  30. Under Eligibility, where it says Rule Section, enter 74.832(A)
  31. Where it says Describe Activity, enter Applicant is a TPP as defined in 74.801 into the box. Note: TPP stands for Television Program Producer. Alternatively, you could enter MPP, for Motion Picture Producer. Use whichever designation is most common to the work you do. If your work is 50-50, pick either one… it won’t matter which.
  32. Skip the middle section of the page and move down to Broadcast Auxiliary Only. Where it says If there is no associated parent station, this application is a, choose either Motion Picture Producer or Television Producer, as per the choice you made in the previous step regarding MPP and TPP.
  33. Where it says State of Primary Operation, you’ll generally want to enter your home state.
  34. At the bottom, click Next Page to be taken to the LOCATION tab.

    The LOCATION tab

  35. To the right of where it says Select Location, click Add.
  36. Open the drop-down list beneath Location Description and select Mobile.
  37. Open the drop-down list beneath Area of Operation Code and select N Nationwide including HI, AK, US Territories.
  38. Skip down to the bottom of the page. Where it says Would a Commission grant of Authorization for this location be an action which may have significant environmental effect?, select No from the drop-down list.
  39. Where it says Do you propose to operate in an area that requires frequency coordination with Canada?, you can most likely say No.
  40. At the upper right of this page, click the Save button. It should now indicate that you’ve chosen “Mobile Nationwide” in the box at the upper left.
  41. Now you’re going to add a second location so once again, to the right of where it says Select Location, click Add. (NOTE: As previously mentioned, the FCC’s java applet is buggy. If it resists your attempts to add a second Location, click Quit Application at the lower left. That will send you back to the log-in page. After you log-in, look over on the right side where it says “Work on this Application” and click “Continue” to pick up where you left off.)
  42. Open the drop-down list beneath Location Description and select Mobile.
  43. Open the drop-down list beneath Area of Operation Code and this time, select U Continental US.
    Note: At this point in the process, the java applet is known to sometimes resist efforts to enter the 2nd location and may even freeze up. If you have this problem, try the BACK button or re-load the page or re-start the java application.
  44. Skip down to the bottom of the page. Where it says Would a Commission grant of Authorization for this location be an action which may have significant environmental effect?, select No from the drop-down list.
  45. Where it says Do you propose to operate in an area that requires frequency coordination with Canada?, you can most likely say No.
  46. At the upper right of this page, click the Save button. It should now both of your locations in the box at the upper left.
  47. At the bottom, click Next Page to be taken to the ANTENNA tab.

    The ANTENNA tab

  48. You created the location in the previous step, so now, below where it says Select Location, you’ll see something that looks liks this: 1 —— —— . Click it. That line will become highlighted and a moment later, the Add button to the right will become active.
  49. Click the Add button.
  50. At the bottom, click Next Page to be taken to the FREQUENCY tab.

    The FREQUENCY tab

  51. Again, below where it says Select Location, click this: 1 —— ——
  52. You’ll see the number 1 appear in the Select Antenna box. Click the number 1.
  53. You may have to wait a moment but when it becomes active, click the Add Freq button to the right. It may take a few more seconds but the Frequency boxes just below the Add Freq button will become active.
  54. Things get a little tricky here so read this step in its entirety before proceeding. In order to be licensed and prepared to use all required equipment, even if you don’t currently own it, you’re going to enter data for all frequency ranges needed to cover audio RF gear likely to be used for Film and TV production. Here is the data for the 7 frequency ranges that need to be registered:
    Lower or
    Center
    Frequency
    Upper
    Frequency
    Frequency
    Carrier
    Station
    Class
    * No.
    of
    Units
    No. of
    Paging
    Receivers
    Output
    Power
    ERP
    LOCATION 1 (Nationwide including HI, AK, US Territories)
    54 72 (leave blank) MO 5 (leave blank) 0.050 0.050
    76 88 (leave blank) MO 5 (leave blank) 0.050 0.050
    174 216 (leave blank) MO 5 (leave blank) 0.050 0.050
    470 488 (leave blank) MO 20 (leave blank) 0.250 0.250
    494 608 (leave blank) MO 20 (leave blank) 0.250 0.250
    614 698 (leave blank) MO 20 (leave blank) 0.250 0.250
    LOCATION 2 (Continental US)
    488 494 (leave blank) MO 20 (leave blank) 0.250 0.250

    You’ll be entering 6 frequency ranges for Location 1 and one frequency range for Location 2. . . one row at a time. So, starting with the first row of data in the table above (beginning with the number 54), you should now enter all data from just that one row into the appropriate boxes on the form. But before entering data for any of the other rows, you should proceed to step #55. When you get down to step #61, you’ll be sent through this same series of steps again, only on your second pass you’ll enter the second row of data (beginning with 76), and on the third pass, the third row, etc. You’ll loop through this series of steps (#54 through #61) for all of the Location 1 data, so you’ll run through it 6 times. You won’t move on to the Location 2 data until step #62.

    * Note: You can choose a different value for the No. of Units but what appears above is probably good if you don’t have special requirements.

    Also note: While working your way through this section, it’s easy to go back and correct errors at any time. Just click on the frequency in the Select Frequency box or on the Emission Designator (you’ll find out about both of these items momentarily) and then make the edits as needed.

  55. Near the top right of this page, click Save Freq. After a moment, you’ll see that your first frequency was saved and now appears in the box just to the left of the Save Freq button, labeled Select Frequency.
  56. In the Select Frequency box, select the frequency that was just added.
  57. In a moment, the Add Emission button toward the middle of the page becomes active. Click the Add Emission button.
  58. In the Emission Designator box, enter 200KF3E (which stands for “200khz bandwidth frequency modulated voice”).
  59. To the right, click Save Emission.
  60. So as to include all 6 frequency ranges shown in the table above for Location 1, keep looping back to step #53 until you’ve entered data for each range.
  61. Now it’s time to add the Location 2 data. Where it says Select Location near the top left, click this: 2 —— ——
  62. Where you see the number 1 appear in the Select Antenna box, click the number 1.
  63. Now go back to step #54 one more time and when you get to the table in step #55, enter the one row of data you see in the table that is labeled for Location 2.

    Statement of Eligibility

  64. You need to include a written “Statement of Eligibility”. You can copy and paste the appropriate text that appears below to create the document in a word processor. NOTE: Back in the ADMINISTRATIVE tab, you had designated yourself as either a motion picture MPP or a television TPP. Based on that selection, choose the appropriate text below. And as before, if your work is 50-50, it doesn’t matter which one you choose AS LONG AS IT MATCHES THE CHOICE YOU MADE IN THE ADMINISTRATIVE TAB.
    If you entered TPP (television producer) in the Administrative tab, use the following text:
    Statement of Eligibility [YOUR NAME] The applicant is a television producer (TPP) engaged in the production of television programs as defined in §74.801. The equipment to be licensed will be used for the transmission of cues and orders to production personnel and participants in programs and the preparation thereof, the transmission of program material by means of a wireless microphone worn by a performer and other participants in a program during rehearsal and during the actual filming, or recording.The applicant works on a contract basis for producers and is sent wherever they need throughout the United States of America. The applicant will avoid using frequencies in cities as listed in §90.303.[YOUR SIGNATURE]
    [YOUR NAME]

     

    If you entered MPP (motion picture production) in the Administrative tab, use the following text:
    Statement of Eligibility [YOUR NAME] The applicant is a motion picture producer (MPP) engaged in the production of motion pictures as defined in §74.801. The equipment to be licensed will be used for the transmission of cues and orders to production personnel and participants in programs and the preparation thereof, the transmission of program material by means of a wireless microphone worn by a performer and other participants in a program during rehearsal and during the actual filming, or recording.The applicant works on a contract basis for producers and is sent wherever they need throughout the United States of America. The applicant will avoid using frequencies in cities as listed in §90.303.[YOUR SIGNATURE]
    [YOUR NAME]

     

  65. Once you’ve created the “Statement of Eligibility” in the word processor, save it as a PDF file with a filename that perhaps includes your name or FRN.
  66. Looking back to the online application form, click the Attachment button, which appears at the bottom left of all the pages. Note: If you don’t see a pop-up window after you click that button, it might be because your browser is configured to block pop-ups. Each browser has its own method of unhiding blocked pop-ups. In Firefox, for example, an alert message appears at the top of the browser with some options on the right that allow you to “show pop-ups for this site”.
  67. In the pop-up window, where it says Type, select Other from the drop-down list.
  68. Click Browse and then locate the PDF file you had just saved on your computer.
  69. In the Description box, enter Statement of Eligibility.
  70. Click Add Attachment and then, after it has confirmed the upload, dismiss the pop-up window.

    Review, Submit and Pay

  71. When you’re all done with the application, click the Submit button that appears at the bottom right of all pages. (NOTE: As previously mentioned, the FCC’s java applet is buggy. If the Submit button is not clickable, do this: change anything in the application… add a period, click a checkbox, or change anything… and then change it right back. After you either click Save or move to the Next page, the Submit button should work.) After you’ve clicked Submit, it will generate a PDF of the application form with all of your info entered into it. Print or Save this PDF for your records. It will contain your application number, which you can use to check the status of your application with the FCC.
  72. You now have 10 days to submit the $165 license fee to the FCC. After an application is submitted but payment is NOT made for 10 days, they’ll delete the license and you’ll have to start all over again. To submit payment…
    1. Go to http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=home.
    2. In the Quick Links section, select Pay Fees.
    3. Log in with your FRN and password.
    4. Your application number should then show up as “Pending”.
    5. Provide credit card info.
  73. Processing of new applications can take 4 months or more. Once approved, your license will be delivered in the mail.
  74. If you used these instructions to submit your FCC application, please send us a note to let us know and to share your feedback.
  75. NOTE TO IATSE LOCAL 695 MEMBERS: After receiving the license, we suggest that you go to the Membership Directory on the Local 695 website and update your info to include your new FCC license number.

If you have difficulty with any portion of the application form, we suggest you contact a professional such as Bill Ruck, at 415-564-1450 or billruck@earthlink.net

IMPORTANT INFO ABOUT LICENSE RENEWALS:
The FCC will send you a courtesy notice about three months before the expiration date.   All you need to do is go back to the page where you applied for your license at http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=home and log on to the ULS with your FRN and password and follow the steps to renew the license.   The FCC gives only a 30 day period to renew a license after it expires.  If you wait more than 30 days, it will have status EXPIRED and there is nothing you can do to renew it.   You’ll need to start all over again by applying for a new license form.  The fee for a new license is much higher than the renewal fee.   The FCC also expects that you will keep your contact information current.  So if you move, you need to go on line at ULS and do an administrative update on your contact information.