Broadcast Station Count

Posted on January 31st, 2017 by

As of the last day of every calendar year (or thereabouts), the FCC publishes a list of broadcast station totals. It is something that Congress requires them to do, and it’s just a list of the current totals, by type. No comparison to prior years is provided, so this one page news release is mostly a yawn. Well, we did some back of the napkin math, made a few comparisons to last year’s list, and thought we’d share what we found.

Radio first. Not surprisingly, there were 15 fewer AM stations at the end of 2016 than the year before. Still, there are 4,669 AM stations licensed in the U.S. and its territories. Another 45 commercial FM stations came on the air in 2016 (6746 total), as did six additional noncommercial FM stations (4101 total). And 747 new FM translators were licensed in 2016 (7253 total), many likely for use with AM stations. Finally, there are another 245 low power FM stations on the air now (total 1,678).

Now, TV. There are seven more Class A UHF TV stations (total 393) in 2016 than last year and six more Class A VHF TV stations (total 24). Another 312 UHF and VHF TV translators were licensed in 2016. Two more full power UHF commercial TV stations (total 1033) came on the air in 2016, but five fewer full power VHF commercial TV stations remained (total 351). For full power educational TV stations, the number of UHF educational stations remained static (289), with one less VHF educational TV station (total 105).

As a side note, of the combined 1,778 total full power TV stations and 417 total Class A TV stations, it is estimated that nearly 1200 of those stations will have to change channels in the post-auction repack.