Call Sign Reservation and Authorization System
User's Guide

September 17, 2009

This Smart Call Sign System supports public call sign query, reservation, fee payment, and change request authorization over the Internet's World Wide Web (WWW). In the past, these functions were performed manually by the Media Bureau (MB) of the FCC. The new system enhances the public accessibility to call sign information and the timeliness of call sign reservation, transfer, and change, while maintaining transaction security. The Call Sign system is accessible to public users through the WWW by navigating to:

This manual provides an overview of how to use the Call Sign Reservation and Authorization System, and is divided into the following sections:

1. Call Sign Query

1.1 Submitting a Query

The Call Sign Query capability allows users to determine the availability and licensing status of call signs.

At the WELCOME SCREEN, the user is advised of the accessibility to information regarding the FCC's call sign policies and regulations and to this user's guide. The user is also presented with two program choices: to issue a query to the call sign database or to request a call sign. Selecting the QUERY button launches the main CALL SIGN QUERY screen, where users can issue queries for valid four letter call sign records by entering the call sign of interest into the QUERY BY CALL SIGN dialog box and clicking on the SUBMIT button. If an error is made during entry of the call sign, users may click on the CLEAR button to reset the form.

If a user submits an invalid call sign for query, the system will respond with a message indicating that call signs must be of valid length, and must begin with the letters W or K. The user should use the BACK button on the Internet client to return to the CALL SIGN QUERY screen and enter a valid call sign.

1.2 Call Sign Information

Once a valid call sign has been entered into the dialog box, and a query has been submitted, the system will search through the call sign database and return the licensing information to the user.

If a license has already been issued for the queried call sign, the system will respond that the call sign is not available. The system will return the information for that call sign, including any secondary call signs (e.g. WXXX-TV or WXXX-FM), the location of the station, and the name and mailing address of the licensee. In addition, the system will report if there are any pending requests related to the call sign. The system will not report the reason that a request is pending, however. (A request may be "pending" if it is awaiting confirmation of payment, awaiting notification of transfer/assignment consummation, awaiting effective date of change, or being explicitly held by FCC staff).

If a particular call sign is not currently being used, the system will respond that the call sign is available. Users may request or reserve the call sign by selecting one of the following functions displayed on the CALL SIGN REQUEST MENU:

For more information about these functions, please see Section 2, Call Sign Reservations and Requests.

2. Call Sign Reservations and Requests

From either the Call Sign Desk WELCOME SCREEN, or as the result of a query for an available call sign, users may issue one of three types of call sign requests. A Change Request should be issued if the user currently holds a license for an existing call sign which the user would like to change to a new, available call sign. A Permittee/Initial Request should be issued by a user who holds a construction permit and wishes to make an initial call sign selection. A Transfer/Assignment Request should be issued when a proposed transferee/assignee desires a different call sign for the station to be transferred or assigned. An Exchange Request should be issued when two licensees (who are primary holders) want to exchange or relinquish one of their call signs.

2.1 Change Requests

Users wanting to change their authorized call sign to a new, available call sign can issue a change request on-line by clicking the CHANGE button.

2.1.1 The Change Request Screen

The Change Request screen has dialog boxes for the REQUESTED (new) CALL SIGN and the CURRENT CALL SIGN. Users should enter an available call sign in the REQUESTED CALL SIGN dialog box, and the call sign for which they currently are authorized in the CURRENT CALL SIGN box. If a user submits an invalid call sign request, the system will respond with a message indicating that call signs must be of four letters, and must begin with the letters W or K.

2.1.2 Unavailable Call Signs

If a user submits a request to change to a call sign which has already been assigned, the system will respond with a message stating that the requested call sign is unavailable. If the request is for a secondary call sign (e.g., WXXX-FM) whose primary call sign (e.g., WXXX) is in use by another holder, the applicant must first obtain consent to use the secondary call sign from the holder of the primary call sign. Similarly, if the requested call sign is reserved by the Coast Guard, the applicant must request release of the call sign from the Coast Guard. Once written approval of the release of the call sign is obtained by the FCC from the Coast Guard, FCC staff will manually release the call sign in the database.

2.1.3 The Change Request Form

Entry and submission of appropriate responses to the REQUESTED and CURRENT CALL SIGN dialog boxes will display the CHANGE REQUEST FORM. The CHANGE REQUEST FORM displays the licensee's current call sign information, including the broadcast service of the station for which the call sign was issued, the licensee's name and address, the requested call sign, and the desired effective date for the call sign change.

The entry portion of the CHANGE REQUEST FORM requires the following information:

2.1.4 The Change Request Result

Upon submission of the CHANGE REQUEST FORM, the system does the following:

Note that the station's previous call sign will be available for reservation by another user only after the effective date of the change request.

For more information about the payment of fees and Form 159, please refer to Section 3 of the Users' Guide.

2.2 Permittee Initial Request

Permittees selecting their initial call signs should click on the Permittee INITIAL Request button from the CALL SIGN REQUEST MENU.

2.2.1 The Permittee Initial Request Screen

The PERMITTEE INITIAL REQUEST screen consists of two dialog boxes. The first dialog box requires entry of the REQUESTED CALL SIGN. Users should enter an available, valid, four-letter call sign with optional, appropriate suffix, in this dialog box. If a user submits an invalid call sign, the system will respond with a message indicating that the new call sign must be four letters starting with W or K, with optional -FM, -TV or the required, -CA or -LP suffix. If a user submits a request for a call sign that has already been assigned, the system will respond with a message stating that the requested call sign is unavailable. (See Section 2.1.1.1 for information about Unavailable Call Signs). In either case, the user should use the BACK button on the Internet client to return to the PERMITTEE INITIAL REQUEST screen and enter a valid, available call sign.

The second dialog box requires entry of the permittee's CONSTRUCTION PERMIT FILE NUMBER. If a permittee submits an incorrect CONSTRUCTION PERMIT FILE NUMBER, the system will respond with a message indicating that the FCC CDBS database does not contain the specified file number. The user should use the BACK button on the Internet client to return to the PERMITTEE INITIAL REQUEST screen and enter the correct construction permit file number, or contact the FCC Call Sign Desk for further assistance.

2.2.2 The Permittee Initial Request Form

Entry and submission of valid responses to the REQUESTED CALL SIGN and CONSTRUCTION PERMIT dialog boxes will display the PERMITTEE INITIAL REQUEST FORM. This form is similar in content to the CHANGE REQUEST FORM described in Section 2.1.2.

2.2.3 The Permittee Initial Request Result

Upon submission of a valid PERMITTEE INITIAL REQUEST FORM, the system does the following:

Note that no fee payment is required when requesting an initial call sign.

2.3 Transfer/Assignment Request

A transferee/assignee desiring to change the existing call sign of the station it is seeking to acquire should select to issue a TRANSFER/ASSIGNMENT REQUEST from the CALL SIGN REQUEST MENU.

2.3.1 The Transfer/Assignment Request Screen

The TRANSFER/ASSIGNMENT REQUEST screen consists of three dialog boxes. The first dialog box requires entry of the REQUESTED CALL SIGN. Users should enter an available, valid, four-letter call sign with optional, appropriate suffix in this dialog box. If a user submits an invalid call sign, the system will respond with a message indicating that the new call sign must be four letters starting with W or K, with an optional -FM, -TV or the required, -CA or -LP suffix. If a user submits a request for a call sign which has already been assigned, the system will respond with a message stating that the requested call sign is unavailable. (See Section 2.1.1.1 for information about Unavailable Call Signs). In either case, the user should use the BACK button on the Internet client to return to the TRANSFER/ASSIGNMENT REQUEST screen and enter a valid, available call sign.

The second dialog box requires entry of the licensee's CURRENT CALL SIGN. Users should enter the station's current call sign in this dialog box.

The third dialog box requires entry of the LICENSE ASSIGNMENT/TRANSFER OF CONTROL APPLICATION FILE NUMBER assigned to the station by the FCC. If the user submits an incorrect LICENSE ASSIGNMENT/TRANSFER OF CONTROL APPLICATION FILE NUMBER, the system will respond with a message indicating that the FCC CDBS database does not contain the specified file number. The user should use the BACK button on the Internet client to return to the TRANSFER/ASSIGNMENT REQUEST screen and enter the correct file number, or contact the FCC Call Sign Desk for further assistance.

2.3.2 The Transfer/Assignment Request Form

Entry and submission of valid responses to the REQUESTED CALL SIGN, CURRENT CALL SIGN, and LICENSE ASSIGNMENT/TRANSFER OF CONTROL APPLICATION FILE NUMBER dialog boxes will display the TRANSFER/ASSIGNMENT REQUEST FORM. This form is similar in content to the CHANGE REQUEST FORM described in Section 2.1.2.

2.3.3 The Transfer/Assignment Request Result

Upon submission of the TRANSFER/ASSIGNMENT FORM, the system does the following:

Note that the station's previous call sign will be available for reservation by another user only after the effective date of the change requested.

For more information about the payment of fees and Form 159, please refer to Section 3 of the Users' Guide.

2.4 Exchange Request

Licensees or permittees seeking to mutually exchange their authorized call signs should select to issue an EXCHANGE REQUEST from the CALL SIGN REQUEST MENU. An Exchange Request should also be used where, by mutual agreement, a licensee or permittee seeks to transfer its station's call sign to another licensee or permittee. Note that only one of the licensees or permittees should use the system to make the exchange request.

2.4.1 The Exchange Request Screen

The EXCHANGE REQUEST screen consists of two rows by two columns table containing four dialog boxes. The first row of dialog boxes requires entry, for Licensee 1 (the applicant), of its CURRENT CALL SIGN and the REQUESTED CALL SIGN. The second row of dialog boxes requires entry, for Licensee 2, of its CURRENT CALL SIGN and the REQUESTED CALL SIGN.

Users should enter valid, call signs with optional, appropriate suffixes in these dialog boxes. If a user submits an invalid requested call sign, the system will respond with a message indicating that the new call sign must be four letters starting with W or K, with an optional -FM, -TV or the required, -CA or -LP suffix. If a user submits a request for a call sign which has already been assigned, the system will respond with a message stating that requested call sign is unavailable. (See Section 2.1.1.1 for information about Unavailable Call Signs). In these cases, the user should use the BACK button on the Internet client to return to the EXCHANGE REQUEST screen and enter a valid call sign.

Where there is not a mutual exchange of call signs between the two licensees, licensee 1 must be the one who is transferring its call sign to licensee 2. Note that licensee 1 may request a different available call sign.

2.4.2 The Exchange Request Form

Entry and submission of valid responses to the CURRENT CALL SIGN and REQUESTED CALL SIGN dialog boxes will display the EXCHANGE REQUEST FORM. This form is similar in content to the CHANGE REQUEST FORM described in Section 2.1.2. Differences between the forms include the display of two blocks of licensee information and of two sets of call signs (current and requested) rather than one. Note that the applicant must check a box to confirm that each licensee consents to this exchange and that each is the primary holder of its call sign.

2.4.3 The Exchange Request Result

Upon submission of the EXCHANGE FORM, the system does the following:

Note that a station's previous call sign - if not reassigned during the exchange - will be available for reservation by another user only after the effective date of the exchange request.

For more information about the payment of fees and Form 159, please refer to Section 3 of the User's Guide.

3. FCC 159 Form, FCC Remittance Advice

No fee is required for licensees and permittees of noncommercial educational, low power FM and low power television stations seeking to change the call signs of their stations. Similarly, no fee is imposed on a licensee or permittee of commercial FM and TV stations that seek to modify its station's existing call sign only to the extent of adding -CA or deleting/adding an -FM or -TV suffix. Further, no fee is required from the permittee of any AM, FM, or TV station that is seeking the selection of its station's initial call sign.

In other than the above situations, if the call sign change, transfer, or exchange request involves a commercial AM, FM, or TV station, the system will inform the applicant that a fee is required. In these cases, when the request has been confirmed, the confirmation screen will contain a button labeled FORM 159. The button should be pressed to continue to the Form 159.

When the FORM 159 button is clicked, the system will display a screen requesting entry of the FRN and Password. Upon entry of the FRN and password the FCC 159 form (FCC Remittance Advice) will be displayed in the user's browser window. This form will have certain information already filled in, including the Payment Type Code, the amount to be paid, and an FCC Code that will enable the matching of this call sign request to the fee payment. This 159 form should be printed (using your browser's PRINT command), and the remaining fields should be filled in. The text at the bottom of the screen after the form contains the address to which the completed form and payment should be mailed. FCC Form 159 and the required payment are required to be submitted within 15 days from the date of the call sign request.

More information about the FCC 159 form is available from the FCC internet site, at Form 159. Also, an Adobe Acrobat version of the form and instructions can be found at 159.pdf.

4. Data Entry Problems (FRN, Red Light Warning)

4.1 FRN Entry

The FRN - a 10 digit field, is to be entered without dashes. You will need to enter any preceding zeros. The FRN is a required field for all call sign requests.

4.2 Red Light Warning

You or an entity sharing the same Taxpayer Identification Number are delinquent on debts owed to the FCC. You can continue with requesting your call sign, however, until the delinquent debt is resolved, there will not be any action taken on the call sign request or any other application requests for agency authorizations.

5. Possible Error Codes

ERROR MESSAGE TRIGGER SOLUTION
Errors in Call Sign Query and Reservation
NOTE: Our records don't contain the LICENSEE/PERMITTEE information about Call Sign xxxx. A query submitted for Call Sign xxxx, whose record or status in the database is ambiguous. Contact the FCC for further assistance.
NOTE: Our records don't contain the transaction type and LICENSEE/PERMITTEE address information. A query submitted for a call sign whose records are incomplete. Contact the FCC for further assistance.
ERROR:The call sign must be three or four letters starting with W or K. Any query for an invalid call sign. Resubmit query for a valid call sign containing three or four letters, and starting with W or K.
ERROR: xxxx is invalid. The current call sign xxxx is not in CALL_SIGN table and ADDRESS table. A Change Request or Transfer/Assignment Request with an incorrect entry in the CURRENT CALL SIGN dialog box. Resubmit request with a valid, current call sign in the CURRENT CALL SIGN dialog box. If the error persists, contact the FCC for further assistance.
ERROR: Requested call sign xxxx is not available. A Change, Transfer/Assignment, or Exchange Request in which the requested call sign is already in use, or reserved, by another licensee. Resubmit request with a valid, unused call sign. For further assistance, contact the FCC.
ERROR: Former Call Sign does not exist. A Change Request or Transfer/Assignment Request with an invalid call sign in the CURRENT CALL SIGN dialog box. Resubmit using valid call sign containing three or four letters, and starting with W or K, for the CURRENT CALL SIGN field.
ERROR: Requested Call Sign must have same service type with current Call Sign.

Please check the value (xxxx) and try again, or contact the FCC for assistance.

A Change Request or Transfer/Assignment Request in which the requested call sign does not specify the service type as the current call sign. Resubmit request with a valid, call sign that has an appropriate suffix. If the error persists, contact the FCC for further assistance.
ERROR: Requested new call sign is not appropriate for service AM.

The new call sign must not have a suffix. Please check the value (xxxx) and try again, or contact the FCC for assistance.

A Change, Transfer/Assignment, or Exchange Request for AM service in which the new call sign has an incorrect suffix. Resubmit the request without a call sign suffix (AM call signs should not have a suffix).
ERROR: For service FM, requested call sign must be four letters starting with W or K, or four letters starting with W or K with -FM suffix.

Please check the value (xxxx) and try again, or contact the FCC for assistance.

A Change, Transfer/Assignment, or Exchange Request for FM service in which the new call sign has an incorrect suffix. Resubmit the request with an FM call sign suffix (FM call signs require the FM suffix, or none).
ERROR: For service TV, requested call sign must be four letters starting with W or K, or four letters starting with W or K with -TV suffix.

Please check the value (xxxx) and try again, or contact the FCC for assistance.

A Change, Transfer/Assignment, or Exchange Request for TV service in which the new call sign has an incorrect suffix. Resubmit the request with a TV call sign suffix (TV call signs require the TV suffix, or none).
ERROR: For Low Power TV, requested call sign must be four letters starting with W or K and must contain the -LP suffix.

Please check the value (xxxx) and try again, or contact the FCC for assistance.

A Change, Transfer/Assignment, or Exchange Request for LP-TV service in which the new call sign has an incorrect suffix. Resubmit the request with an LP call sign suffix (LP-TV call signs require the LP suffix).
ERROR: The requested call sign by licensee 2 must have the same first four letters as the current call sign of licensee 1. An Exchange request in which the requested call sign for licensee 2 is not appropriate. It must have the same first four characters as the current call sign of licensee 1 of the exchange. Resubmit the request with an appropriate call sign.
ERROR: FCC address database does not contain the specified Call Sign.

The address is necessary for the automatic postcard that is sent to the licensee's address as an official notification of the requested change. Please check the value (xxx) and try again, or contact the FCC for assistance.

A Change or Transfer/Assignment Request for a call sign whose database record is incomplete, or missing. Resubmit request with a valid, call sign. If the error persists, contact the FCC for further assistance.
ERROR: FCC address database does not contain the Call Sign of the current licensee.

The address is necessary for the automatic postcard that is sent to the licensee's address as an official notification of the requested transfer. Please check the value (xxxx) and try again, or contact the FCC for assistance.

A Change or Transfer/Assignment request made for a call sign whose record is incomplete or missing. Resubmit request with a valid address. If the error persists, contact the FCC for further assistance.
ERROR: FCC address database does not contain the address of the primary Call Sign holder.

The address is necessary for the automatic postcard that is sent to the licensee's address as an official notification of the requested change/assignment. Please contact the FCC for assistance.

A Change, Initial, or Transfer/Assignment request made for a call sign whose record is incomplete or missing. Resubmit request with a valid address for the primary holder. If the error persists, contact the FCC for further assistance.
ERROR: The licensee xxxxxxxx cannot submit more than one call sign reservation request. A request by representative name was submitted on request date to change/transfer to call sign xxxx. A Change, Transfer/Assignment, or Exchange Request while an initial request is pending by the same licensee. Contact the FCC for further assistance.
ERROR: The permittee having File Number xxxxxx cannot submit more than one call sign reservation request. A request by representative name was submitted on request date to select call sign xxxx. An Initial request has already been made by the permittee having the specified File Number. Contact the FCC for further assistance.
ERROR: State abbreviation is not correct. Appropriate State Abbreviations are: ... Any request made with an invalid state abbreviation was submitted in the address fields. Resubmit request with a valid state abbreviation.
ERROR: Date format is not correct. Any request made with the date in an incorrect format. Resubmit the date in the month/date/year format.
ERROR: Effective Date must be within 45 days. Any request in which the Effective Date is not within 45 days of the date of the request. Resubmit the request with an appropriate Effective Date.
ERROR: FCC address database does not contain the specified File Number.

The address is necessary for the automatic postcard that is sent to the permittee's address as an official notification of the requested assignment. Please check the value (xxxx) and try again, or contact the FCC for assistance.

An Initial or Transfer request made for a call sign whose record is incomplete or missing, or made with an invalid File Number. Resubmit request with a valid File Number. If the error persists, contact the FCC for further assistance.
ERROR: Invalid File Number Prefix.

Please check the value (xxxxxxxx) and try again, or contact the FCC for assistance.

An Initial or Transfer request made with an invalid File Number. Resubmit the request with a valid File Number, or contact the FCC for further assistance.
ERROR: ANTI-DRUG ABUSE ACT box not checked.

In order to reserve a Call Sign, the applicant must certify compliance with the requirements specified in section 5301 of the ANTI-DRUG ABUSE ACT of 1988. Please read the section on the form, and click in the box if it is true. If further assistance is needed, please contact the FCC.

A Change, Initial, Transfer/Assignment, or Exchange request made without checking the Drug Certification Box. Resubmit request with drug certification box checked. If further assistance is necessary, contact the FCC.
ERROR: Primary Call Sign holder consent box not checked.

In order to reserve a Call Sign that is already in use as a primary Call Sign (that is, the characters before the dash are used by another licensee), the applicant must certify that the consent of the primary licensee has been obtained. If so, click in the consent box. If further assistance is needed, please contact the FCC.

A Change, Initial, or Transfer/Assignment request made without checking the Consent Box. Resubmit request with primary call sign holder consent box checked. If further assistance is necessary, contact the FCC.
ERROR: Consent and primary holder box not checked.

In order to exchange, the applicant must certify that each licensee consents to the exchange and confirm that each is the primary holder of its call sign. If so, click in the consent box. If further assistance is needed, please contact the FCC.

An exchange request made without checking the consent and primary holder box. Resubmit request with consent and primary holder box checked. If further assistance is necessary, contact the FCC.
ERROR: Incomplete - unable to update database. A Change, Initial, Transfer/Assignment, or Exchange request made with incomplete data. Resubmit request with complete, valid data.
ERROR: FRN OR PASSWORD IS INVALIDA Change, Initial, Transfer/Assignment, or Exchange request made with an incorrect frn or passwordRe-enter a valid frn and password
Possible System, Database, and Connectivity Errors
INTERNAL ERROR: Could not set initial options on database.
Could not initialize.
A database initialization error has occurred. Resubmit request at a later time. If the error persists, contact the FCC.
INTERNAL ERROR: Unable to process database command for CALL_SIGNS
Unable to process database request.
A database error has occurred. Resubmit request at a later time. If the error persists, contact the FCC.
INTERNAL ERROR: Update unsuccessful.
Update database table xxxx not successful
A database error has occurred. Resubmit request at a later time. If the error persists, contact the FCC.
INTERNAL ERROR: A database connection error occurred. A database error has occurred. Resubmit request at a later time. If the error persists, contact the FCC.

FCC 380