Oxenford: Weigh Risks Before Rebroadcasting HD Multicast on FM translator
The commission has not yet adopted specific rules governing the technical details of rebroadcasting digital sub-channels over FM translators
December 4, 2017
WASHINGTON — The FCC’s Audio Division has allowed the rebroadcast of FM multicast HD signals on FM translators since 2010. “Recognizing that HD receivers are still not widely available, the analog FM translator makes these digital subchannels widely available,” attorney David Oxenford writes on broadcastlawblog.com. (This post talks more about the 2010 decision to allow such rebroadcasts.)
On Nov. 29, the Audio Division released another decision dismissing objections against an FM translator license application. In so doing, the common practice of rebroadcasting HD signals on FM translators has been blessed once again — at least for now, according to Oxenford.
However, the following was embedded in the above-referenced decision: The commission has not yet adopted specific rules governing the technical details of rebroadcasting digital sub-channels over FM translators. In 2007, the commission stated that a fuller record was needed before promulgating specific rules regarding “use of FM translators and boosters to rebroadcast multiplexed audio streams.” Pending further commission action on this matter, we rely on existing rules and precedent to dispose of the subject applications and petitions.
One interpretation of this statement is that the commission could, at some point, change its current practice and adopt limits on the use of translators to rebroadcast HD subchannels. “We have no reason to believe that any change in policy is imminent, but thought that we should pass along this warning that the rules on this practice have never been set in stone so anyone contemplating such operations needs to carefully weigh any risks,” said Oxenford.