New FM Translator Interference Rules Adopted

Posted on May 31st, 2019 by

At its May 9, 2019 meeting, the FCC adopted new rules for how it considers and processes FM translator interference complaints.

On balance, the new rules place limits and additional requirements on full power radio stations before an FM translator must cease operation. The new rules establish an outer 45 dBu contour limit for the complaining station within which interference complaints will be considered actionable, and although a claim of interference can be made beyond that contour, it must be done via a waiver request with at least 20 additional listener complaints. Within the 45 dBu contour, the rules establish a minimum number of listener complaints, proportionate to the population the complaining station serves, that a station would need to substantiate any claim of interference. Listener complaints must conform to a particular format and contain additional, specific information about the interference received. Full power stations must also attempt to resolve the interference issue with the FM translator and submit a certification to that effect with any FCC-filed complaint.

The new rules do allow FM translator stations to change frequency to any available same-band channel as a minor change in response to interference issues.

The key components of the new rules are not yet in effect. Federal Register publication must occur, with effectiveness following 60 days later accompanied by an FCC public notice making an effectiveness announcement. Applications or complaints that have not been acted upon as of the effective date of the new rules will be decided based on the new rules.