FM Translator Filing Windows Projected for Late Summer

Posted on April 27th, 2017 by

If your AM station sat on the sidelines during 2016’s two filing windows that allowed stations to acquire and relocate existing translator authorizations up to 250 miles, your turn to get a new FM translator for use with your AM station is right around the corner. In a speech at the NAB Convention, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai promised as much, and if you haven’t been paying attention, he delivers on his promises.

So long as your AM station did not file to acquire or relocate a translator in the 2016 windows, you are eligible to file in the 2017 windows, when announced. Even if your AM station already has an FM translator acquired through means other than the 2016 windows, your station remains eligible to file for a new translator permit in the 2017 window. What if you tried to get one in the 2016 windows, filed at the FCC to modify/relocate such a translator, but ultimately weren’t successful because the deal fell through? Sorry, you won’t be able to participate in the 2017 windows.

The 2017 filing windows will likely be short (perhaps 30 days) and will start with a window for Class C and D AM stations, followed by another short filing window for Class A and B AM stations. Now is a good time to do a little advance planning if you plan to participate. You’ll want to ensure that you have reasonable assurance for your tower site before filing an application. And it’s a good idea to use a good engineer to propose realistic facilities designed to cover your station’s more densely populated areas. Remember, the FCC’s new siting rule for AM station FM translators became effective April 10, 2017, and the new rule allows the 60 dBu contour of an AM station’s FM translator to be located within the greater of either (a) the 2 mV/m daytime contour of the AM station, or (b) a 25-mile radius centered at the AM station’s transmitter site.

There will be several pre-window steps that must be taken because of the format of these windows. Because mutually exclusive applications that are not resolved would have to go to a highest-bidder-wins auction, participants will most likely have to file FCC Form 175 to qualify, specifying basic technical parameters. More details will be released in coming weeks.