FCC Adopts Siting Rule Change For AM Station FM Translators

Posted on February 24th, 2017 by

At its open meeting on February 23, 2017, the FCC Commissioners voted to relax a rule governing where FM translators being used for AM stations can be located. Previously, to 60 dBu contour of such translators had to be contained within the lesser of the AM station’s 2 millivolts per meter (mV/m) daytime contour or a 25-mile radius centered at the AM station’s transmitter site.

Under the new relaxed standard, the 60 dBu contour of an FM translator being used to retransmit an AM station’s signal can now 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. A previous proposal setting an overriding 40-mile limit on the distance from the AM station’s transmitter site was not adopted.

The relaxed siting rule substantially increases the flexibility of AM stations to locate FM translators in order to best serve their core audience, especially in situations where directional AM patterns are involved or where ground conductivity is uneven. According to the FCC, over 2000 AM stations are now using an FM translator. With a filing window on the near horizon for new FM translator permits for use with AM stations that didn’t participate in the 2016 windows, even more AM stations will have an opportunity to get FM translators.