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CDBS Public Access Help

This is the Help for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Media Bureau's (MB) Public Access web pages for the CDBS system. The MB CDBS database contains data for AM, FM, TV, LPTV, and DTV stations, and Broadcast, Cable and MVPD EEO filings. This help file provides information about obtaining data from the CDBS database via the World Wide Web.

The major topics in the help file are:

Public Access Introduction

The FCC Media Bureau is responsible for licensing broadcast services in the Unites States. The licensing information for broadcast radio (AM and FM) and television (TV, LPTV, and DTV) is contained in a database management system named CDBS (for Consolidated Database System). This system contains the broadcast applications that were electronically filed to the FCC. It also contains migrated data from applications that were submitted to the FCC on paper that had been stored in previous MB database systems (such as BAPS and MM engineering).

The Media Bureau is also responsible for collecting EEO (Equal Employment Opportunity) information from Broadcast stations and from Cable and MVPD (Multichannel Video Programming Distributor) employment units. The CDBS system contains data migrated from legacy MB EEO databases along with data from recent electronically submitted EEO filings.

These web pages provide the public with the following capabilities for accessing the CDBS database:

Where to Start

Basic CDBS information can be found on the CDBS Home Page at:

The top-level web page for public access can be found at the following location:

or by clicking on the following link:

The top-level page contains hypertext links to the web pages for the available functions.

User Interface

The functions all start with a web page that gives a user the ability to input values with which to search the database. Pressing a button will access the CDBS database and then create a new web page that contains a list of matching results. Each match in the list includes a hypertext link that can create a new web page containing detailed information for the match.

The functions can search for station information, application information, or EEO filing information. Often, the general public would like to learn more about the characteristics of stations in an area. In this case, the Station Search would be used. Another type of user is a station itself who would like to retrieve information about a submitted application by using the Application Search. The functions are accessible from the top-level web page by clicking on the appropriate link.

Search Steps

Operation of the three kinds of searches all follow a similar sequence of steps, as follows:

  1. The first page contains a search screen, with HTML fields for entering search criteria values.
  2. Enter the values for your search and press the "Submit" button.
  3. The FCC server is sent a request to search the database.
  4. When done, a new web page is displayed in the browser window containing the results of the search.
  5. To get more details about a particular station (or application/filing), click on the link in the Details column of the results list table row.
  6. The FCC server is again contacted, the database is accessed, and the resulting detailed data is displayed in the browser window.

Search Screen Constructs

The search web pages contain areas from which values can be specified that are used to search (query) the database. These search screens are implemented using HTML (HyperText Markup Language) 2.0 constructs. Data values are input using an HTML FORM with field types of TEXT, CHECKBOX, and SELECT. If these constructs are unfamiliar to you, you may want to learn more about HTML and WWW browsers before filling out the search screens. These are used in the following ways:

TEXT field
A field for a string of characters or a number, as appropriate. Most have a maximum input length.
CHECKBOX field
Check/select the desired choices.
SELECT field (single)
Some SELECT fields (e.g., Service) allow the selection of one (or zero) values. These are often displayed by a browser as a drop-down list, from which the user can select one value.
SELECT field (multiple)
Some SELECT fields (e.g., Station Status and Application Status) allow the selection of multiple (or zero) values. These are often displayed by a browser as a multiple selection list with a scroll bar, from which the user can select values. The method of selecting more than one value varies depending on browser and operating system (for example, Control-Click, Shift-Click, or Command-Click).

Search Screen Values

The fields on the search screen are used to search the database. You can use the standard SQL (database Structured Query Language) wildcard characters in fields that contain string values when the exact string value is not known. The percent (%) character can be used to signify a string of zero or more characters. For example, use a Call Sign of WAB% to query for stations with Call Signs that begin with the characters "WAB". The underscore (_) character can be used to signify any single character. Consult an SQL reference for more information. The wildcard characters should not be used in the State field (which requires the appropriate two-character state abbreviation) or the numeric valued fields.

All of the criteria are combined to search the database for matches of ALL of the values. Empty fields are ignored when constructing the criteria.

To clear out the values you have entered, press the "Clear Values" button.

Help

Hypertext links are available at certain places on the search screens (for example, field labels). By clicking on a link, the Help file is opened in your browser window. The window is positioned at the appropriate location in the documentation that covers the topic. To resume filling out the search screen, use your browser's Back command.

Warning and Error Messages

You cannot submit a database search without any criteria values.

If a search retrieves an excessive amount of data (currently, more than 50 matching stations or applications/filings), you will get a Warning message. This is to prevent accidental searches from unnecessarily overloading the server. It also warns the user that a particular query may take a while to retrieve the data and display it in the browser. If desired, the search can be continued by pressing a button on the Warning screen. Otherwise, the search can be refined by using the browser's Back button. For more information, see the text of the Warning message.

Sometimes, when the FCC web server or database server has problems, you may see unusual server or database error messages displayed in the browser window. We have attempted to prevent these situations and produce understandable messages, however, please try the operation again, and contact us if this continues to occur. Please include the operation that was being attempted, the values of all of the fields, and the date and time that the problem occurred.

Search Fields

The following information defines the fields that appear on the search screens.

Common Fields

Call Sign
A Call Sign is a set of characters that serve as the public identification for a broadcast radio or television station. For example, WCAU or WGBS-TV. Values are converted to upper case for searches since this field is stored in upper case in the database. You can use wildcard characters (such as %).

NOTE: If you enter a DTV Replacement Translator Call Sign, the search is done as if you had entered the Call Sign or Facility ID of the parent full-service station.

Facility Identifier
The unique integer number (assigned by MB) that identifies a station.
File Number
The official, FCC File Number for an application/filing. For Assignment of License, Transfer of Control, and Ownership Report forms, this matches the File Number of the main station (at the top of the form). This will not match the File Number of the other stations that are listed on the form (sometimes called the members of the group). You can enter either one or both parts of the File Number (the Prefix, and the Application Reference Number (ARN)), if desired. You can use wildcard characters in both parts of this field.
Service
The service (e.g., FM Station, Television Station, etc.) of interest. Most browsers display this field as a drop-down list, from which the user can select one value.
Channel
The channel of the station, where appropriate. (Note that television stations are known by channel numbers, while AM radio stations are identified by frequency.)
Frequency
The frequency of the station, where appropriate. (Note that AM radio stations are identified by frequency, while television stations are known by channel numbers.) Enter the value assuming the appropriate units for the desired service (e.g., units of kHz for AM and MHz for FM).
Community of License City
The Community of License is the principal community that is (to be) served by the station. The City value will be converted to upper case when the database is searched. You can use wildcard characters in this field.
Community of License State
The Community of License is the principal community that is (to be) served by the station. The State field should contain the standard two-character abbreviation for the state. Do not use any wildcard characters for this field.
Applicant Name
The legal name of the party that submitted the application. Labeled Licensee/Permittee on some forms. You can use wildcard characters in this field.
Positional Interest (or Ownership Information) Name or Address
The values in the Name and Address columns of the application/filing question about parties to the application and non-party equity owners (e.g., Form 301, Section II, Question 2, and Form 323, Section II, Question 9). You can search with only a portion of the name or address by specifying part of the name or address surrounded by percent characters.

Station Search-Specific Fields

Station Status
The current status of a station (e.g., CP Applied for, Licensed). Most browsers display this field as a multiple selection list with a scroll bar, from which the user can select zero or more values.
Digital Status
The current digital status of a radio station (Hybrid or Digital). Most browsers display this field as a selection list, from which the user can select a choice, if desired.
Licensee Name
The legal name of the entity that is the official licensee of the station. You can use wildcard characters in this field.
Commercial/Non-Commercial
Check whether you want to limit searches to either commercial or non-commercial educational stations. (Note: If you do not want to limit your search in this way, leave both checkboxes unchecked instead of checking both.)

Application Search-Specific Fields

Application Type
Limit search to the specified application types (e.g., Original Construction Permit, License to Cover, Assignment of License, etc.). Most browsers display this field as a multiple selection list with a scroll bar, from which the user can select zero or more values.
Application Status
The current status of an application (e.g., Accepted for Filing, Granted, Dismissed, etc.). Most browsers display this field as a multiple selection list with a scroll bar, from which the user can select zero or more values.
Status Date
A beginning and an (optional) ending date. Use this to search for applications whose status has changed within the date range. Use a date format of mm/dd/yyyy.
Form Number
The form (e.g., 301, 302-FM, etc.) of interest. Most browsers display this field as a selection list, from which the user can select a choice if desired.
NTSC or DTV TSID
Search for applications whose facility contains the specified value as the analog or digital Transport Stream Identifier (TSID).
Include Short Forms
If checked, include applications that are auction short forms (also known as engineering proposals). They are normally excluded to avoid thousands of unexpected matches during ordinary searches.
Include Superseded
If checked, include applications that have been superseded by minor amendments.
Group Type
The type of Group Search to perform (for example, ALTC or Renewal Translator).
Main File Number
The official, FCC File Number for an application. For Assignment of License, Transfer of Control, and Ownership Report forms, this matches the File Number of the main station (at the top of the form) only. This will not match the File Numbers of the other stations that are listed on the form (sometimes called the members of the group). You can enter either one or both parts of the File Number (the Prefix, and the Application Reference Number (ARN)), if desired. You can use wildcard characters in both parts of this field.
Member File Number
The official, FCC File Number for a member of a group. For Assignment of License, Transfer of Control, and Ownership Report forms, this matches the File Number of the members of the station list group. For Renewal forms, this matches the members of the renewal translator group. You can enter either one or both parts of the File Number (the Prefix, and the Application Reference Number (ARN)), if desired. You can use wildcard characters in both parts of this field.

EEO Search-Specific Fields

Emp Unit Id
The (FCC assigned) id number for an employment unit.
Filing Year
The year (4-digit) of a filing.
Form
The EEO form (e.g., 395-B, Initial Election Statement, etc.) of interest. Most browsers display this field as a multiple selection list with a scroll bar, from which the user can select zero or more values.
MSO Name
The name of the MSO controlling/owning the operator. You can use wildcard characters in this field.
Employment Office County
The county where the principal employment office is located. The value will be converted to upper case when the database is searched. You can use wildcard characters in this field.
Employment Office State
The state where the principal employment office is located. The value will be converted to upper case. The field should contain the standard two-character abbreviation for the state. Do not use any wildcard characters for this field.

Ownership Report Search-Specific Fields

Entity Name
The name of an entity that can be specified on some Ownership forms if it was filed by someone other than the licensee or permittee. You can use wildcard characters in this field.

Antenna Search-Specific Fields

Antenna Make
The name of the antenna make (manufacturer). A three-character code. You can use wildcard characters in this field.
Antenna Model
The model name or number of the antenna. You can use wildcard characters in this field.
Antenna ID
The CDBS-assigned antenna id number (an integer).
Standard Pattern
Whether to search only for standard (Manufacturer Supplied) antenna information.

Station Search

This allows the user to search the database for information about a particular station by entering search criteria in fields. Pressing the "Submit Search" button will search the database and return results to the browser window. From the list of matching stations, the user can click on a hypertext link to retrieve detailed information about a selected station.

The Station Search Details screen contains basic facility information such as current call sign, facility ID number, facility type, and status. It also contains embedded links to provide more detailed information about:

The Details screen includes Virtual Channel, the number displayed on a television set (or DTV converter box) for a DTV station. For most stations, it is the same as their old pre-DTV Transition analog channel number in order to make them easier to find and tune to. When a station is multicasting, the additional channels are displayed as extra numbers following a dash (-) or dot (.) after the virtual channel number (e.g. 26-1, 26-2, 26-3). Note that this may not be the same as its channel on a subscription service like cable or satellite television. Also, it may not be the same as the actual channel that the station is transmitting on (which is the "Channel"). The Correspondence Folder contains CDBS Informal Filings and Imported Letters. It is also available from the Application Search Details screen.

Correspondence Folder

Informal filings are anything that is typically submitted on paper to the Media Bureau and not on an FCC Form. Examples of common Informal filings include Consummation Notices, Address Change Notifications, Requests for Special Temporary Authority, Petitions and Objections. As the different types of Informal filings are released for filing using CDBS, the Bureau will announce their availability. These filings are associated with a facility and/or an application and thus can be retrieved using 'View Correspondence Folder' link. They typically do not contain a File Number but are instead identified by date filed and informal filing type. Clicking on the 'Click to View Filing' link will display the informal filing in a new browser window.

Imported Letters are (PDF format) files that have been associated with a facility and/or application by FCC Media Bureau staff members.

DTV Station Search

This is a simplified search page that provides an easy way to search the CDBS database for information about Digital (and Analog) Television stations. It provides information about whether stations are operating, and if so, whether they are currently broadcasting analog or digital signals or both, and on what channels.

This search page operates a little differently from the other pages (for example, the asterisk '*' is used as the wildcard character instead of the percent '%'. See its separate help file, at Frequently Asked Questions about CDBS DTV Station Search.

Application Search

This allows the user to search the database for information about a particular application by entering search criteria in fields. Pressing the "Submit Search" button will search the database and return results to the browser window. From the list of matching applications, the user can click on a hypertext link to retrieve detailed information about a selected application.

Note: CDBS applications that represent engineering proposals for permits that were filed during an auction initial filing window (known as "short forms") are omitted from the normal application search by default. This is to prevent hundreds/thousands of auction short forms from making it hard to find other data. When searching for this kind of permit, you can explicitly specify "Short Form" as the Form Number. Alternatively, you can check the "Include Short Forms" checkbox to also allow them in normal searches so that an application search will include both short forms and other types of applications.

Group Search

You can also search for applications that are members of an ALTC (or Renewal Translator) group. Often, sales forms (Assignment of License and Transfer of Control) include more than one facility to assign or transfer. The normal application search will not retrieve these stations. Instead, the second part of the Application Search web page provides the ability to search for these members of an ALTC application. This Group Search is independent of the first search, that is, none of the values in the upper fields are used when the Submit Group Search button is pressed. The resulting application list is slightly different in that it shows the File Number of the parent/main application of the group, which is used when retrieving information about the application instead of the member File Number.

Application Search Results

The Application Search Results page gives you a table with a summary of applications that matched the criteria. The last column of each row contains one or two hypertext links. There will always be a link named "Info" that opens a new web page containing a table of useful information. This page is intended to provide information about an application's status, rather than complete technical data. If the application itself can be retrieved and displayed in a browser, a link named "Application" will also be available to retrieve and display the entire application. If the "Application" link is dimmed (not active), this feature is not available for that application. The "Paper/Elect" column indicates whether the application was electronically filed (E) or submitted on paper (P) to the FCC.

Application Link

If the Application link is active, it will open a new browser window with the filed form. (Note: It could take a minute or two for the entire form to be retrieved and displayed.) You can print the form by using your browser's Print command. When finished with this view of the form, close the window and return to the original browser window containing the Search Results screen.

Note that the form will closely resemble the version of the form implemented by the CDBS Electronic Filing System, but may differ a little in format from the paper version. The new window combines all of the form sections together. 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 attached files will be displayed.

All of the attachments are in Adobe PDF (Portable Document Format), however, 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 (for PDF, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader) 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 retrieve 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 Application link 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.)

Application Details

When viewing the Details web page for an application, there may be other links that provide additional information.

You can view the authorization for a granted application. If an authorization is available, the words "View Authorization" will be highlighted as a link. To view/retrieve the authorization, click on the link, read the information on the displayed web page, wait a minute for the authorization to be retrieved from the database and prepared for viewing, and then click on the "Get Authorization" link in that web page. The authorization will be in Adobe PDF (Portable Document Format) which can be viewed using a tool/plug-in such as the free Adobe Acrobat Reader. The Acrobat Reader can be run inside a browser (as a plug-in or helper application) or as a standalone tool if you have saved the authorization to your local computer. If the authorization does not appear after a minute, the computer doing the processing may be down. Please try again (click on the "Get Authorization" link again) after waiting another couple of minutes. If the file still does not appear, please try again later.

You can view selected engineering information about an application using the "View Engineering Data" link. Note that there may be some cases where the detailed data is not available. Other ways to view the data are by displaying the entire application and by downloading the engineering data files.

You can view the legal actions associated with an application (such as petitions to deny and petitions for reconsideration) by clicking on the View Legal Actions link from the Application Details web page. The resulting web page contains two sections. The first section contains comments made by the legal staff during the processing of the application. The second part contains information about specific legal actions associated with the application (that were entered into the system by the staff).

You can quickly view the information on an application for the question about parties to the application and non-party equity owners. (For example, this is Question 2 in the Legal section of the FCC Form 301.) Click on the View Positional Interest Info link from the Application Details web page. The resulting web page contains a table with the information from the application. Note that this information was not collected for older applications (prior to Electronic Filing).

You can view the informal filings associated with an application. See the Correspondence Folder paragraph under the Station Search Details section.

EEO Search

This allows the user to search the database for information about a particular EEO application/filing by entering search criteria in fields. The web page is divided into separate search screens for Broadcast searches and Cable/MVPD Searches. These search screens are independent (that is, the system only uses the search criteria that are filled in for the section containing the button that is pressed).

The first part of the web page allows a search for filings by Broadcast (e.g. TV, AM, FM, etc.) stations. Some EEO forms allow a single filing to apply to more than one station. This broadcast search allows you to search using any of them. Pressing the "Submit Search" button will search the database and return results to the browser window.

The second part of the web page allows a search for filings by Cable/MVPD employment units. Pressing the "Submit Cable/MVPD Search" button will search the database and return results to the browser window.

From the list of matching applications/filings, the user can click on a hypertext link to retrieve detailed information about a selected application. The last column of the list contains one or two hypertext links. There will always be a link named "Info" that opens a new web page containing a table of useful information. This page is intended to provide basic information about a filing (such as when it was filed and entered into the database), rather than the complete data on the form. If the application/filing itself can be retrieved and displayed in a browser, a link named "Application" will also be available to open a new window containing the entire application.

Ownership Report Search

This allows the user to search the database for information about a particular Ownership Report by entering search criteria. Note that the Ownership Reports (FCC Form 323 and 323-E) allow a single application form to contain information that applies to more than one station. This search allows you to search using any of them (that is, any station specified in the list of stations as well as the main station identified at the top of the form.) Pressing the "Submit Search" button will search the database and return results to the browser window.

The results show the matching stations from Ownership Reports with one line being displayed for each station from the report. For example, if the user searches using the ARN of an Ownership Report for which there were 5 stations specified on the report (including the main station at the top of the form), there will be 5 rows in the search results. Each station will have its own ARN and each line will also show the ARN of the main station.

The user can click on a hypertext link to retrieve detailed information about an application. The last column of each results line contains two hypertext links. The first is named "Info" that opens a new web page containing a table of useful information. This page is intended to provide basic information about a filing (such as when it was filed and entered into the database), rather than the complete data on the form. If the application itself can be retrieved and displayed in a browser, a link named "Application" will also be available to open a new window containing the entire application.

Antenna Search

This allows the user to search the database for information about a particular antenna that was specified on radio or television applications. Enter search criteria in the desired fields. Press the "Submit Search" button to search the database and return results to the browser window. From the list of matching antennas, the user can click on a hypertext link to retrieve detailed information about the relative field values (if available).

Download Engineering Data

A set of files is available over the internet that contain publicly released CDBS data. The files can be found at the following location:

Additional Help

For technical assistance about system functionality and performance, call the CDBS Help Desk at 202-418-2MMB (202-418-2662) or contact the FCC at cdbshelp@fcc.gov

Known Problems



Please send comments via standard mail to the Federal Communications Commission, Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, D.C., 20554. Questions can also be answered by calling the FCC's National Call Center, toll free, at 1-888-Call FCC (1-888-225-5322).

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Last modified October 30, 2009