Accessing FCC Database Information
Broadcasters provide a lot of information to the FCC - from license applications to construction permits to ownership reports, there are literally dozens of forms used by the FCC to collect all sorts of information. A number of Internet-based tools exist which provide access to much of the information collected, and one innovative tool that was recently made available to the public, discussed below, offers a unique graphical interface utilizing Google's Google Earth™ application.
The licensing information for broadcast radio (AM and FM) and television (TV, LPTV, and DTV) stations is contained in an FCC database management system called the Consolidated Database System (CDBS). This database contains broadcast applications electronically filed with the FCC, as well as data from applications that were submitted to the FCC on paper and stored in previous FCC database systems (additional information on CDBS may be found on the FCC's Web page at http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/prod/cdbs/pubacc/prod/help_pa.htm).
One popular way to search CDBS is by using the "Query" pages located on the FCC's Media Bureau Web page. There are three separate Query pages, one for each of the primary broadcast services:
Another, perhaps more convenient search tool has been put together by the broadcast engineering consulting firm of Cavell, Mertz & Associates (CM&A, Manassas, VA, www.cavellmertz.com). Called FCCInfo.com (and that's the URL, as well), this search tool accesses the CDBS to provide information on AM, FM, and TV data. Additionally, the FCC Wireless Bureau's Universal Licensing System (ULS) database is used to obtain information on broadcast microwave and land mobile data. ULS is the consolidated database and application filing system for most Wireless Radio Services including Broadcast Auxiliary Service and Local Television Transmission Service (used by common carriers to relay television programming material). Additional information on ULS may be found on the FCC's Web page at http://wireless.fcc.gov/uls/index.htm?job=about. Searches supported by FCCInfo.com are shown in the table.
Earlier this year, CM&A made a graphical interface to FCCInfo.com available to the public, which utilizes the popular Google Earth mapping application. An example of this interface is shown in the image below, for a search of DTV licensees in the San Francisco, CA area; in this image, the red callouts are DTV stations.
The various categories of information available for display are shown in the box to the left of the image (in the PLACES menu), where for this example only the DTV Station box is selected. Clicking on the "+" sign next to the box creates a list of all the stations in that category, and these stations can be individually selected or de-selected for display.
Some of the features of this new graphical interface as described on the CM&A Web site include the following:
To activate this Google Earth interface, click on the link http://ge.fccinfo.com/fccinfo.kmz which will start the Google Earth application (which must be installed on your computer) and the selection boxes shown in the image will appear (be sure that the SIDEBAR option is enabled in the Google Earth VIEW menu). Additional information is available on the CM&A Web page at www.fccinfo.com/fccinfo_google_earth.php.