The Media Bureau (MB) CDBS Electronic Filing System provides the public with the ability to fill out MB forms on-line via the World Wide Web and to file them electronically with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Each person seeking to file an electronic form should read all of the following instructions before beginning.
The benefits of the electronic filing of applications include:
The top-level introductory web page for the system can be found at:
or by clicking on the following link: Go to CDBS top-level page
The user documentation (this file) can currently be found at:
Current telephone numbers for assistance can be found by clicking on the following link: CDBS phone numbers.
[November 2009] The system has been moved to a different machine. Old saved bookmarks/favorites will work for a while and automatically forward you. The current URLs can always be found on the Media Bureau Electronic Filing page. In addition, the electronic filing system is now on a secure server (pages are accessed using https).
[November 2009] The Attachment functionality has been revised and enhanced. Individual attachments can now be deleted using check boxes and the "Delete Selected" button. See the Exhibits and Attachments section below.
In order to use the system, you must have an account. An account provides:
When logging in to the system for the first time, an applicant must create a new account. There are two kinds of people (Licensee Applicant and Contact Rep) that are associated with the account. When you create the account, you first fill in the Licensee Applicant information. The Contact Rep also appears on application forms such that storing its information in the account saves retyping and reduces potential errors. Use the Account Maintenance button to fill in information about the Contact Rep (before creating a new form). Note that some forms require information about other people however, these others are transaction-specific (for example, the person you are selling a station to) and therefore saving them in the account would not prevent any retyping.
In some cases, an applicant may utilize different people for preparing/analyzing different kinds of applications. For example, an applicant may have a particular Contact Rep for FM stations and a different one AM stations. In this situation, the user can easily create two accounts and log in using the appropriate one depending on which kind of application is being worked on. This causes the appropriate Contact Rep data to be copied to the questions on the form.
The account is identified with a unique number that is generated by the system. You choose your own password at account creation and you can modify it with the Account Maintenance function. Please print the web page containing your account number for safe-keeping and remember the password you specified.
When a new application is started, the information from the account is prefilled into the fields for the appropriate questions. These fields cannot be changed on the form. If you want to change anything, such as an address or phone number, you must first change it using the Account Maintenance feature of the system, before creating a new form.
A "Logout" button can be found at the top of the Main Menu and Informal Filings Menu, and at the bottom of the Confirmation Page. This button explicitly releases your session, so that someone else can log in without getting a "someone else is logged into the account" warning message. Normally, sessions expire when you close your browser, or have two hours of inactivity. The button also brings you back to the Login page to make it easier to log in to a different account, if desired.
The first page of the system is called the "Main Menu". The top section contains a list of Form Names to be used for creating new forms. Click on the desired Form Name link to start creating a new form. The bottom section contains a list of links to forms that are in preparation or which recently have been filed. Click on the desired link to modify or add to a work-in-progress form. You can also click on a form that has been filed to view the form in read-only mode.
There are buttons on the Main Menu that perform operations on the forms themselves. First, click on the radio button to the left of the particular form, and then press the operation button at the bottom of the screen. The buttons are:
The last link in the first part of the System Main Menu will bring the user to the "Informal Filing" submenu. This menu isolates the informal filing forms from the other official forms provided by CDBS. The preparation, validation, and filing of informal filings are done using the same operations as for the other forms with a few minor differences:
See the CDBS Informal Filings FAQ web page for more information about the specific informal filings that are available.
Each form section has a status that is shown on the form's section menu page. The values are as follows:
On the Main Menu, each form that is being created has a Status. (Note that this is different from the legal Application Status associated with a filed application, such as "Accepted for Filing" or "Granted.") These values are as follows:
Each broadcast form has a number of sections, and a Pre-form. Start a new form by pressing the appropriate link in the top part of the Main Menu. The first web page that you get is the form-specific Pre-form. At the top of the Pre-form is a text field for a Description that the user will see on the Main Menu to help distinguish forms from each other (in case more than one form of a particular type is being worked on at the same time).
The Pre-form has a few questions that guide the system into determining the appropriate sections that need to be filled in according to such things as the purpose of the filing and the service. For example, the system will determine the appropriate engineering section to be used when creating a Form 301 (Construction Permit). Of particular importance on the Pre-form are the File Number and/or Call Sign. Depending on the form, you must fill in the File Number and/or Call Sign when you are basing this new form on another filing. Examples of these cases are changes (in licensed facility), modifications to permits or license, and amendments.
After answering the questions on the Pre-form, press the Enter button to start the data checking. The system will check the database and inform you if the Pre-form contains an incorrect value. If the data on the Pre-form is OK, certain data is prefilled to the form sections. As mentioned previously, data about the persons associated with the account is prefilled to the form. Also, for amendments, every question will be prefilled with the answer from the application being amended so that the user only needs to revise the fields for the questions being changed. The form will be complete (rather than containing just the revised answers), however, the user should review the prefilled data by opening and validating each part of the form (and also fill in the appropriate Certification section). The same prefilling applies to changes and modifications to construction permits.
Once the Pre-form has been processed without finding any data errors, the user will be taken to Section 1 of the form. Note that at the bottom of this (and each) section is a button labeled Menu that will take the user to a menu that contains a list of all of the form sections. Click on the links for the section names in the top part of the menu page to fill in each section (which may be worked on in any order). The bottom part of the menu page will contain sections that have been saved.
Most of the fields on the forms expect text input values. Others are checkboxes (which can be checked or unchecked) or radio buttons (in which one of a set of choices can be selected). If you are not familiar with browser-based data entry forms, you may wish to learn more about them from books or the web before trying to use the system. Note that no data is sent to the FCC by just filling in values in the fields. You may save your work-in-progress (in fact, it is good practice in case there is a computer or network problem) by pressing the Save button at the bottom of the section. The Save operation keeps the data in a holding area at the FCC, but note that the holding area is separate from the database that is used to process filed forms. An attempt to submit a form for electronic filing does not occur until you press the File Form button (see below).
Mistakes can always be corrected (as long as you have not yet filed) by typing over a value, or by selecting a different radio button choice. If you make a serious mistake, such as answering a Yes/No radio button that you did not mean to answer, you can press the Clear button at the bottom of the section to reset all the data to last saved values. You can also delete an entire section, by using the Delete button at the bottom of the form section menu. When you delete, the section will be returned to the top part of the section menu that lists the sections that have not yet been saved.
The second stage of data checking includes more complex business rules checking. It occurs when the File Form or Test File buttons are pressed from the Main Menu (see the Test Filing a Form or Filing a Form sections below).
When filling out sections, there will be buttons to return to other pages. A Menu button will take the user back to the section menu for the form. Sometimes there will also be a button to take the user back to the Main Menu or to the Previous page. Please use these (instead of a browser's "Back" button) if they are available.
There are two kinds of nested web pages - exhibits and subforms - that are used by some form sections. Exhibits are used to allow additional commentary about or justification for answers to certain questions. Exhibits can be ordinary text and/or one or more attached files. Subforms allow a form section to be separated into a hierarchy of smaller, logical pieces.
(With one exception identified below,) by pressing an Exhibit button, you will be taken to a web page in which a short text description (a 'text exhibit') can be entered into an HTML text field. This is often used to introduce or summarize the exhibit. If desired, one or more files can be attached (an 'attachment') by using the "Add/View Attachment(s)" button at the bottom of a text exhibit web page. When creating a text exhibit, make sure that you enter both a description and the exhibit text.
(With one exception identified below,) attached files must be in PDF format. The Portable Document Format (PDF) makes it easy to view an attached file by using a PDF-reading program (such as the free Adobe Acrobat Reader). General information about PDF format can be found at Adobe Systems Incorporated's web site (www.adobe.com). One useful web page is at: Adobe PDF Information. See the CDBS Exhibit/Attachment FAQ file for more information about preparing PDF documents.
Once you add an attachment to an exhibit, a table with attachment information will be displayed on the Attachments Entry web page for that exhibit. This list of attachments contains links named by the attachments' Descriptions to retrieve (and view) the files as they were stored in the CDBS database. To upload a new attachment, the user to needs to enter a short Description and to enter (or use the accompanying "Browse" button to locate and select) a file name. Depending on your browser and operating system, you may need to choose a file search type of "PDF" or "All Files" (instead of the default which may be "HTML") to properly locate your desired PDF file. To delete one or more attachments, use the check boxes to the left of attachment names and press the "Delete Selected" button. To delete all of the attachments (along with a text exhibit) use the "Clear" button on the text exhibit page.
Note: Prior to May 1, 2002, CDBS allowed attachments of other (besides PDF) formats: Word, WordPerfect, Excel, Text, Image. The system automatically converted non-PDF attachments to PDF. The automatic conversion was turned off on May 1 to ensure that the submitted PDF document is exactly what the applicant intends. Additional information about the reasons for requiring PDF documents is available from the CDBS Exhibit/Attachment FAQ file.
One exhibit for Form 301 and 340 must be in Open XML Spreadsheet format, rather than PDF. This exhibit (for Question 9b in the DTS Engineering - Technical Specifications section) is required for each DTV DTS transmitter site. By pressing the Exhibit button in these cases, a page will open that looks similar to the ordinary page for uploading a PDF attachment (the system skips the text exhibit, since it does not apply for this question). When you upload the appropriate file, the system will attempt to process it and report if any problems were found (such as an invalid format or values of the wrong type or out of range). After uploading, you can View the spreadsheet or Delete it. Additional information about uploading and viewing the spreadsheet exhibit is available from the CDBS Exhibit/Attachment FAQ file.
The other kind of nested web page is a subform. When a table is particularly large, or when the number of answers to a question is unknown, the system collects the information in a subform. By pressing the button that is associated with the question, the user will be taken to the first page of the subform. Data is entered in the same way as for a regular form section. There are navigation buttons to add additional copies if more answers are needed. The Previous button takes the user back to the section that contains the subform.
CORES is an FCC registration system for entities filing applications or making payments with the Commission. Since December 3, 2001, the CORES FCC Registration Number (FRN) has been required for all applications submitted using Commission filing systems. The FRN is a unique 10 digit FCC Registration Number (FRN) which can be obtained both on-line and manually. See the CORES Home Page for more information.
There are two ways to enter the FRN needed for filing in CDBS. You can enter or correct an FRN by using the Edit FRN button. The button will show up at the bottom of the section (usually Section 1) where the FRN appears on the form. Pressing the button will bring up the FRN Screen, where the FRN and password are validated. Alternatively, you can wait until you file. If you have not yet entered the FRN when you press the File Form button for the first time (but not the Test File button), you will be taken automatically to the FRN Screen. In addition to the filing FRN, some forms request supplemental FRNs (e.g. Buyer's FRN). These extra FRNs are entered directly in the space provided on the form.
When started via the File Form button, the FRN Screen has 2 buttons at the bottom (and a link), as follows:
When started via the Edit FRN button, the FRN Screen has 2 buttons at the bottom (and a link), as follows:
The FRN box on each CDBS form (if the version of the form has one) will be blank initially. It will be displayed after the FRN is successfully entered and validated.
The FRN for the applicant will undergo FRN validation and password checking. If a form requests more than one FRN, any other FRN's are not verified and passwords are not requested or checked. For example, some sales forms ask for the current licensee's FRN - which does require a password that is verified - as well as the future owner's FRN. The second FRN is not checked, nor is the password asked for, since for security reasons, we do not want to require that the buyer's FRN password be told to the seller.
Often, users want to run the second stage of data checking (business rules) before they are ready to file a form. This can be done by using the Test File button on the Main Menu. When the Test File button is pressed, the second state of data checking (see Business Rules Validation below) happens in the same way as for the File Form button, but without actually filing the form.
Note: The data checking will/may include an error message saying that the CORES FRN is required since the FRN entry/verification is skipped during the Test File process.
Note: Test Filing is unnecessary for certain forms that use the new interface. See the New Interface section.
The File Form button starts the process of final data checking and then
submission of the form to the FCC. The first web page you get is the FRN
Screen, if you have not already entered the FRN, where the FRN number
will be verified and the password checked.
Business Rules Validation
The second stage of data checking is a validation module does complex checking, such as business rules that verify that values are appropriate based on the values in other fields. For example, rules will enforce that required Exhibits are attached for "No" answers to certain questions.
When all of the conditions are met, the system will report that the form has no errors and display a filing confirmation page. This page will provide an Application Reference Number (ARN) and information about whether fees are required. We recommend that this page be saved and/or printed for later reference. After finishing with the confirmation page, a button will return the user to the Main Menu. On the appropriate row, the Status of "READY" and the reference number indicate that the electronic filing steps have been completed.
Note: The second stage of data checking is unnecessary for certain forms that use the new interface. See the New Interface section.
Note: Please read this section carefully.
Applicants electronically filing feeable forms must submit payment to the appropriate lockbox number specified in either the FCC Fee Filing Guide, or as specified in special Public Notices. The available electronic fee payment system makes this process easier such that the FCC is able to more quickly recognize that the appropriate fee(s) for an application have been paid and therefore be able to start to process it sooner.
After successfully filing an application, two kinds of confirmation pages will be displayed. For non-feeable applications, a simple page will display the Application Reference Number and time of filing. For feeable applications, the page will also state that a fee is required and will contain a button to start the FCC Electronic Form 159 system. The button labeled "Electronic Form 159" calculates the appropriate fee(s) and opens a new browser window that contains the Electronic Form 159 system. The Form 159 system enables you view an FCC Form 159 that contains all of the appropriate fee payment data for this application. You may print out the Form 159 and mail it to the payment bank in the usual way, or you may pay the fee(s) electronically. Note that the Electronic Form 159 system is separate from CDBS - please follow its instructions carefully. To skip the electronic fee payment step, press the "Return to Main Menu" button. You may pay the fee electronically at a later time by using the "Pay Fee" button on the Main Menu screen to redisplay the confirmation page which will enable you restart the payment process.
Note: Payment must be received by the payment bank within 14 (calendar) days of the date that the application is officially received by the Media Bureau's electronic filing system (indicated by the reference number assigned to the electronically filed application). This deadline applies to any payment submission method (electronic or via a paper check). If payment is not received in time, the filed application will be considered to be not paid and will therefore not be processed by the MB.
***Important Notice*** The U.S. Treasury will reject Credit Card transactions greater than $99,999.99. This limit includes multiple transactions on the same Credit Card totaling more than this limit in a single day. For transactions greater than $99,999.99, an alternative method of payment must be used. Payment methods can be found at www.fcc.gov/fees. Reference: Treasury Bulletin No. 2005-03 (www.fms.treas.gov/tfm/vol1/bull.html).
If you choose not to pay the fee(s) electronically, you can submit a completed paper FCC Form 159 to the payment bank. If so, we strongly recommend that you still generate the electronic Form 159 and print it out so that it contains all of the appropriate data for the application. If not, you must manually determine and enter the standard information required by the Form 159. You must also include call sign, payment type, amount, special filing codes, and other values in Section C.
The FCC CODE 1 must contain the Facility ID Number and FCC CODE 2 must contain the characters "CDBS" followed by the application reference number. These are questions 28 and 29 in the February 2000 version of the FCC Form 159. If the FCC Form 159 does not include the correct special codes for the application, the association of the payment with its application (and subsequent processing by the FCC) may be delayed.
Applicants filing certain forms (such as Forms 314, 315, and 316) may require multiple filing fees for one electronically filed application. The applicant should include the appropriate fee for each station and fill out the data for each group of Section C questions. For each payment, specify the appropriate Facility ID Number for the FCC CODE 1 and include the same special filing code for the FCC CODE 2 for all of them. This will insure that each fee will be linked with the appropriate lead application. For example, if one Form 314 is used to assign three different callsigns, each of the entries on Form 159 for the corresponding callsign must include the special filing code for FCC CODE 2 of the lead application. (If 20000101ATZ is the lead application for the group, the code CDBS20000101ATZ is entered in FCC Boxes 29A, 29B and 29C on FCC Form 159 (February 2000 version) for each corresponding callsign entry on the Form 159, and the different station's Facility ID Numbers are entered in 28A, 28B, and 28C).
The forms have been divided into sections and subforms to make them easier to prepare. However, users often want to see and print the entire form without opening each section, subform copy, and exhibit. The "Print Form" button on the Main Menu provides this capability. Select the desired form (it can be in-progress or already filed) and press the Print Form button. A new browser window will be opened that contains a printable version of the form. Then, you can print the form by using your browser's Print command. The printable version can be saved by using your browser's "Save As" command under the File menu and making sure that a file type of "Web Page, complete", HTML, or "*.htm" is specified. When finished with this view of the form, close the window and return to the original browser window containing the Main Menu.
The new window combines all of the form sections together. All copies of subforms are displayed in the order they were entered. Exhibits are displayed at the end of the form ordered by exhibit number. The exhibits may contain two parts. If there is a text exhibit, it will be displayed first. Then, if needed, a menu of links to the attachments will be displayed.
Since the attachments may be very large, they have not been included for display in the new browser window. Instead, to view/print an attachment, click on the attachment link. Depending on your browser settings, a plug-in/helper application (appropriate to the PDF type) may open or your browser may ask if you want to open the file, how to open it, or where to save it. If desired, each attachment can be retrieved and printed using the link and its associated program.
Since some of the forms are large, some users may experience system problems trying to print a form. It may take a minute or two for the entire application to be retrieved and displayed. If the complete form does not display or is apparently missing data, you may not have sufficient system resources. Try to solve the problem by closing unnecessary windows on your computer and/or restarting your browser and then pressing the Print Form button again. Also, in some cases, a form that is displayed accurately in the browser window could contain lines that are overlaid on top of each other in the printed hardcopy. This sometimes happens using Microsoft Internet Explorer (such as version 5.5). To work around this problem, use the Save As command to save the web page to a file (pick a name that you will remember) on your hard drive (or a network drive). Then, use the Open command (under the File menu) and then the Browse button to specify the file that you just saved. The file that opens will look the same as that which was generated dynamically, but it should print without the overlaid lines. (Another alternative would be to use Netscape Navigator which does not have the overlaid text problem.)
The "Copy Form" button on the Main Menu allows a form in your account (having any status) to be copied. All of the data from the original form (including exhibits and attachments) is copied to a new form in your account that is given a status of PENDING. To give you the ability to change certain fundamental data, the form then goes through the same process that it would if you were starting a new form (the FRN Screen and then the form-specific Pre-form). For example, a Form 316 for Transfer of Control may be copied (to avoid having to reenter a large amount of parties information) and then a new call sign could be entered on the Pre-form that is different from the one on the original form. Doing this after changing the Account information to specify a different licensee would accommodate multiple Form 316 applications submitted with identical "Party" information.
The same CORES processing is done on the FRN. The same error checking is done on the Pre-form to verify that correct data (such as service, file number, call sign, etc.) are entered by the user. Additional checks ensure system consistency by preventing the user from specifying a different service from the original (on engineering forms) and from specifying a different purpose (although changing from Major to Minor and vice-versa is allowed). You should Validate each section of the copy and use the Print button to double-check that the form contains the desired information before filing it.
Additional information to aware of:
Some newer CDBS forms have been implemented using a new interface. This interface was designed to be almost identical in look-and-feel, functionality, and operation to the existing system. The differences are as follows:
Only two forms are currently implemented in this way:
The following is a quick summary of how to use the system.
Note: The EEO forms 395-A and 395-B are suspended (see Commission Order FCC 01-34).
Send questions and requests to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Current telephone numbers for assistance can be found by clicking on the following link: CDBS phone numbers.