FCC Proposes to Change Rules Governing FM Translator Locations

Under the draft order released on Feb. 2, translators will be able to be located in a larger area February 6, 2017
WASHINGTON — On the agenda for the FCC’s Feb. 23 meeting are two items of interest for broadcasters. For TV, it’s the proposed rulemaking for ATSC 3.0; for radio broadcasters, it’s the draft order that would permit an expansion of the area in which an FM translator rebroadcasting an AM station can be located.

As currently written, the rules for locating these FM translators specify the 1 mv/m contour of translator must be entirely contained within the lesser of the daytime 2 mv/m contour of the AM station, or a circle with a 25 mile radius from the AM transmitter site.

Under the draft order released on Feb. 2, translators will be able to be located in a greater area: the 1 mv/m contour of the translator will have to be within a 25 mile radius measured from the AM site; or, within the 2 mv/m contour of the AM station — whichever is greaterAt first reading, the difference seems very subtle; but if your AM station is directional, the 2 mv/M contour could easily go out more than 25 miles from the transmitter. This is an obvious benefit if the station happens to have a major lobe of its directional pattern pointed right at an important listener base.

“...Anyone wanting to take advantage of this proposal needs to find a translator in their service area that can be used to rebroadcast their AM signal,” writes David Oxenford in broadcastlawblog.com. “As many translators that were already being put to productive and valued uses by their owner have already been sold, capitalizing on the new opportunities presented by this order may be difficult in some markets.”

You can learn more about the use of FM translators as they relate to the AM revitalization efforts by referring to this article, and this follow up, both in Radio magazine. 


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