First 250-Mile FM Translator Modification Window for AM Stations Opens January 29th

Posted on December 31st, 2015 by

The FCC has now set the dates for the two 2016 filing windows for AM stations to modify FM translators by relocating them up to 250 miles to permitted locations within their coverage areas.

The first window will open on January 29, 2016 and remain open for six months for Class C and D AM stations to file modification applications for commercial band FM translators. AM stations can either be in the process of acquiring (or already own) the translator they want to modify, or have an agreement to retransmit the translator licensee’s signal. The first window will close at 11:59 pm EDT on July 28, 2016. Each AM station can only file one such application. Whether successful or not, the AM station will not be eligible to file in later windows or in a scheduled 2017 auction after the modification windows are concluded.

The second window, open to all classes of AM stations, will open on July 29, 2016 and close at 5:59 pm EDT on October 31, 2016. Again, only commercial band FM translators can be modified in this window.

AM stations participating in either window will electronically file their FM translator modification applications on FCC Form 349, and must indicate in Exhibit 1 of the form that the proposal is a “250-Mile Waiver Application.” While peculiar, this approach avoids the necessity of the FCC seeking a change to the application form, and also helps the staff to track the one-time right of an AM station to file such an application. Later application attempts by the same station will be rejected by the FCC.

In connection with its window date announcement, the FCC also launched its FM Translator Channel Finder tool. The FCC cautions that the channel finder tool is limited to “tentatively” identifying available FM channels for relocated translators, but urges applicants to consult a qualified engineer to assist them in filing applications that are compliant with the FCC’s rules.

The public notice also includes some questions and answers that applicants may find helpful. We note that even AM stations that already have a translator are eligible to file for another one in the 250-mile application windows.