Many pastors and churches have reached out over the past few weeks as we’ve all been experiencing a lot of difficulty with the current situation with the Coronavirus or COVID-19. Many churches are going to live stream and other digital opportunities. We have been in the middle of helping many churches with various things. The one thing that constantly comes up is churches asking me what the rules and regulations are concerning having a drive-in church with an FM transmitter. I just want to go over that a little bit. Is it possible to have an FM transmitter that broadcasts to your parking lot? And the answer is yes. There are many transmitters out there.
Many of the transmitters are a little 15 watt transmitters will transmit an FM frequency into a parking lot or an area around your church. You can plug a transmitter directly you’re your sound-board or from some audio source. Now it will transmit on an actual FM frequency. There are a lot of rules and regulations around that. Here is the link from the FCC on the rules and regulations- https://www.fcc.gov/media/radio/low-power-radio-general-information#UNLICENSED
For the most part, the things that you need to know are this: Technically you’re not supposed to be broadcasting for more than 200 feet from your location of broadcast. The FCC rules have a bit of a gray area and you have to be very careful. The other thing you’re not allowed to do is to pick a frequency that someone else has already on. If you interrupt their frequency, they could file a complaint against you. So be very careful to pick a dead frequency. Another thing that you need to consider is the fact that if you are near a major roadway, technically you’re not allowed to broadcast onto a major expressway or roadway, and so you need to be very, very careful with broadcasting if you’re near a highway or a very busy traffic area. The best thing to do would be to get a little small 15-watt transmitter, pull everybody into your parking lot, set up outside and then broadcast so that everybody inside of their cars could hear it if they turn to that FM frequency.
Actual verbiage from the FCC:
Unlicensed operation on the AM and FM radio broadcast bands is permitted for some extremely low powered devices covered under Part 15 of the FCC’s rules. On FM frequencies, these devices are limited to an effective service range of approximately 200 feet (61 meters). See 47 CFR (Code of Federal Regulations) Section 15.239, and the July 24, 1991, Public Notice (still in effect). On the AM broadcast band, these devices are limited to an effective service range of approximately 200 feet (61 meters). See 47 CFR Sections 15.207, 15.209, 15.219, and 15.221. These devices must accept any interference caused by any other operation, which may further limit the effective service range.
You can find these little FM transmitters on eBay or Amazon, various other places and they’re pretty easy. Here is an example of a small FM Transmitter – https://www.wish.com/product/585f8fcaf4021c4f51e7dbba?hide_login_modal=true&from_ad=goog_shopping&_display_country_code=US&_force_currency_code=USD&pid=googleadwords_int&c=%7BcampaignId%7D&ad_cid=585f8fcaf4021c4f51e7dbba&ad_cc=US&ad_curr=USD&ad_price=175.00&campaign_id=7203534630&gclid=CjwKCAjw7LX0BRBiEiwA__gNwyXal4_KKZqrEVC4X3pm6gQSrrvyJpUPqrVDhdr01sVEMha82TY2fxoChwAQAvD_BwE&share=web
Here is a basic google search so you can see more options – https://www.google.com/search?q=15+watt+fm+transmitter+for+sale&oq=15+watt+fm+transmitter+for+sale&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l2.8253j0j4&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8
They are going very fast. I’ve seen some that were available or no longer available. Knowing that Easter’s coming up, many churches are going to try this and I just wanted to make you aware of what it takes and what the rules and regulations are
I hope the services to come in the next few weeks go well, but be very careful. The FCC is not a group you want to ignore. They don’t take lightly to pirated radio stations. There are severe fines and consequences if you do this this illegally. Make sure you do it correctly. If you have any questions please let us know.
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Eddie graduated from The Ohio State University School of Broadcasting with a degree in Broadcast Sales and Marketing. He studied marketing at Georgia Tech and business management at Emory University. His degree in Theology is from Hyles- Anderson College. He is now the President of Affinity Worldwide and speaks at business conferences across the country. His passion for using Media to reach the world with the gospel keeps him on the road helping churches and missionaries alike understand how to best use the tools that we have been given to be most effective.