AM stations finally get a black-and-white policy about using FM translators.
The staff’s been handing these out, case-by-case, but it’s now got a written policy about just when an AM can use a translator to fill in its coverage area. Some highlights from the Report & Order – AMs may use “currently authorized FM translator stations” (those licensed as of May 1) to “re-broadcast their signals, provided that no portion of the 60 dBu contour extends beyond the smaller of: (a) a 25-mile radius from the AM transmitter site; or (b) the 2mV/m daytime contour of the AM station.” Daytimers can originate programming on translators after the AM station must sign off. But stations can’t just turn off the AM transmitter. In fact, if the AM’s off more than 24 hours, you must power down the translator. You can have more than more than one translator for an AM, as long as they don’t overlap (see paragraph 29 in the Report and Order, about concentration of ownership). Stations are allowed to cut deals with non-owned translators. But the agency’s not creating new translators – because that gets you into the fight with Low Power FM advocates over spectrum. (See paragraph 20.) For the FCC, the issue is all about serving the community and promoting “the bedrock goals of localism, competition and diversity in the broadcast media.” Read the Report & Order. Does a relatively low-power FM signal really matter, you ask?