Over 400 Applications Filed in First 250-Mile FM Translator Modification Window

Posted on February 29th, 2016 by

The FCC’s first 2016 filing window for Class C and D AM stations to file modification applications relocating commercial band FM translators up to 250 miles opened on January 29, 2016, with over 400 applications filed that day.

The FCC has already processed and granted over 300 of those applications, and expects to act on the remaining applications by mid-March 2016. The FCC’s lightning quick processing confirms what many have experienced — very few applications filed were mutually exclusive with others and were therefore immediately granted. If a station did not file early in the window, it remains eligible to file now. The first filing window, during which applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis, will not close until 11:59 p.m. ET on July 28, 2016.

The next day, July 29, 2016, will mark the start of the second 2016 filing window in which Class A and B stations (in addition to Class C and D stations that did not participate in the first window) can file to relocate and modify existing commercial band FM translator licenses or permits up to 250 miles. The second window closes at 5:59 p.m. ET on October 31, 2016.

We’ve helped many stations obtain FM translators as part of this window, and have noted an interesting development that we thought worthy of passing along. Many FM translator applications filed during the window specified a tower used by the AM station. While perfectly fine, many of those AM stations have towers that pre-dated the FCC’s tower registration system and have therefore not been registered. In the vast majority of cases, registration was not required because the tower is less than 200 feet above ground.

But in some cases where towers are located near airports, even towers less than 200 feet tall have to be registered because they are close enough to the airport to create safety of flight issues. The FCC staff ran airport proximity analyses on these towers as part of their review of FM translator applications, and a few were not grantable until a tower completed the registration process, which can take several months and requires an FAA determination of no hazard. So when choosing a tower for an FM translator 250 mile modification window application, stations using an AM primary station tower should confirm that the tower does not require registration.