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Subject Topic: Full Power Station?? Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Joined: 02 October 2007
Location: New Zealand
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Posted: 06 September 2010 at 5:05pm | IP Logged Quote SlightMiracle


Help! all you wise radio operators . . .

 . . .Can anyone tell me where I can start learning about starting a full power station?? Approx. costs, licenses, hardware required, compliance, etc . . .

I haven't been able to learn anything much online.


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Posted: 07 September 2010 at 6:59am | IP Logged Quote RadioTech

Well, there's essentially three main ways to get into a full power station.

1) Community license

2) Iwi broadcasting

3) Open your wallet

The last I heard, Ministry of Culture and Heritage wasn't issuing any more community licences at that stage, but that was a couple of years ago, it may be different now.

A license for a community station gets you into the full power arena, but there are some drawbacks.
Being a community station, it needs to be open to all manner of community groups, religious outfits, special interest groups etc - for them to put their message across.
This may or may not appeal to you.

The next option is Iwi radio. The Government has special sets of frequencies set aside for Maori radio. You need to prove that you have a Maori background and probably have to seek funding through your local iwi in order to get the license approved etc. I'm not overly familiar with the protocol to get an Iwi license.

Third, open your wallet and give MED lots of money.

The exact amount depends on various factors. Location is the big one.
A full power license to broadcast in Otira will cost you significantly less than one in Auckland (not that there are any spectrum licenses available there at the moment!)

Then there is the potential coverage aspect. If you want to cover one town with 5000 residents, you will pay less than a license that allows you to cover several towns with a combined population of 50,000 residents.

The amount of power you can use is determined by these factors and a few others. Basically, you tell them what area you want to cover and where your transmitter will be located, and they will tell you what power you can use (or will need). Alternatively, they may suggest a site that has better coverage for your target area using less power.

With FM, in almost every case, it will be on top of the highest mountain that is closest to the area you wish to cover.

MED has been running tender rounds for FM spectrum licenses, and as an example, a high power license (5kW off the Sky Tower in Auckland) will probably set you back several million dollars.

A frequency in Whitianga recently sold for around $28,000.

You can read more about spectrum licenses here:

Another way you can get into high power is to lease a frequency from an existing license-holder.

Some people buy licenses (like an investment in the stock-market) and just sit on them, without actually using them. An approach to the holder of the license can often see you able to use it for an agreed fee.

As for equipment, I know of people running LPFM type equipment along with high power licenses, and there is a wide range of options between that and a full-on, commercially engineered digital station at the other end of the scale.

Some stations get their license and start out small, often with donated gear, or bits and pieces cobbled together from wherever they can, and as the money comes in from ads and other sources, they can upgrade to better equipment.

Unless you have unlimited money at your disposal, full power licenses really need to make an income for you, as you have things such as power, rent, telco lines and other outgoings to cover.

Community radio is usually a non-profit operation, but you still have to cover certain costs.

Finding good, used broadcast equipment in NZ is like searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack. The best thing to do is keep your ears and eyes open, and watch sites like TradeMe and Ebay.

Bear in mind that professional broadcast equipment operates using balanced line technology, and unless you are familiar with this system you are likely to have difficulty in connecting it up properly. You don't just grab a handful of RCA cables and plug everything in.

As for compliance, all you need to do is make sure your signal is clean, is running the correct EIRP (and conforms to any directional or power radiation requirements), is on frequency, and that you keep your program material clean and free from bad language etc [otherwise you risk a complaint from the BSA].

If you have a high power license it means the transmission equipment you use will more than likely be professionally built, in which case it will require someone with RF skills to install and set it up, but you will know from the start that it will almost definitely conform to required specifications - unlike most cheap LPFM stuff.

I hope that's given you some ideas, if you have any more questions please ask.

Edited by RadioTech on 07 September 2010 at 7:02am
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