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Broadcast Applications - CDBS Out, LMS In

I prepared my first full-power analog TV FCC license application in December 1982. I remember working on it in a hotel room in Waikiki using a borrowed typewriter and creating the many required drawings and exhibits by hand on graph paper.

Times have changed. The FCC Media Bureau's CDBS provided a way to file broadcast applications electronically and reduced the errors inherent in collecting and transcribing paper filings. I don't think it would have been physically possible to handle all the filings required in the DTV transition without CDBS. CDBS first went on-line in February 2000, more than 14 years ago!

Now, as broadcasters are likely to face requirements for more filings over a shorter period of time, the FCC Media Bureau has decided to replace CDBS with the Licensing and Management System (LMS). While the introduction of LMS wasn't without some difficulties—the site wouldn't load soon after the FCC released its Public Notice announcing it and the system hasn't linked the broadcast licenses/applications to the licensee's FRN (even though the FCC's Fee Filer has managed to do this)—overall it appears to be a significant improvement over CDBS.

Having become quite familiar with CDBS, I was prepared to be disappointed when I logged into LMS, but was pleasantly surprised. The obvious difference is data is now entered into a simpler, web-based form, no Java forms like those in ULS or gray-shaded forms like those in CDBS. Missing items are flagged in a menu on the right so you can immediately see what's needed to finish the application. It also looks like there is some error checking built in. Because the web pages are item based rather than trying to replicate a specific page on a paper application, navigation is easier.

I have some more work to do before I finish my first LMS Form 302 application but I can see if is going to be a lot easier than that Form 302 I did 32 years ago!

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.