FCC Allows AMs to use FM Translators

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Washington - Jun 29, 2009 - In a report and order, the Federal Communications Commission has adopted changes in its FM translator rules to allow AM stations to use currently authorized FM translator stations to retransmit their AM services within the AM stations' current coverage areas. Specifically, AM broadcast stations will be allowed to use FM translator stations now licensed or authorized in construction permits that have not expired to rebroadcast their AM signals, provided that no portion of the 60dBu contour of any such FM translator station extends beyond the smaller of a 25-mile radius from the AM transmitter site or the 2mV/m daytime contour of the AM station.

In addition, AM broadcast licensees with Class D facilities will be allowed to originate programming on such FM translators during periods when their AM station is not operating.

The FCC says it took this step to permit AM broadcasters to better serve their local communities and thus promote the Commission's "bedrock goals of localism, competition, and diversity in the broadcast media."

The FCC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on Aug. 15, 2007, seeking input on the concept. The FCC says it received hundreds of filings and comment supporting the idea to allow AM stations to use FM translators as a fill-in service, but only a few opposing the idea.

Primary opposition states that the action will further erode AM listening by further promoting FM stations. Other opposing comments include noting that this does nothing to improve the current state of AM, and that allowing AM stations to use FM translators will reduce opportunities for LPFM stations to be created.

MB Docket No. 07-172; RM-11338

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