FM Translator Count Hits A New High As AMs Decline Again

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The FCC on Tuesday (10/3) released its Broadcast Station Totals for the first nine months of 2017. Thanks to the FCC’s Spectrum Auction, there are some dips in the number of broadcast TV stations licensed to air in the U.S. Meanwhile, there are fewer commercial FM stations and several more FM translators, while the number of AMs has taken a big dip.


As of Sept. 30, there are now 6,748 commercially licensed FMs in the U.S. That’s slightly up from a year-end 2016 total of 6,746, but down 7 stations since the end of the second quarter, and 6,754 commercially licensed FMs in the U.S. as of March 31.

Meanwhile, there are five additional FM noncomms in the U.S. compared to the end of Q2, with the total at 4,116. That’s up from 4,101 at the end of 2016.

On the TV side, the end of the FCC’s spectrum auction results — as expected — in a few less facilities.

The number of commercially licensed UHF facilities slipped to 1,019, from 1,025 at the end of Q2. The number of commercial VHF stations climbed again, to 359. This compares to 350 at the end of the first quarter and 357 at the end of the second quarter.

There are two fewer UHF noncomm (286) stations, and four additional VHF noncomms (109) as there were on June 30.

Looking at Class A facilities, UHF stations dipped to 379 from 393, largely due to the now-concluded FCC incentive auction; VHF stations remain at 24.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway is the renewed growth in FM translators and boosters. As of March 31 some 7,453 FM translators and boosters were licensed nationwide. That’s the same total seen as of June 30. However, Auction 99 pushed that forward to 7,575 stations.

There were 7,253 FM translators and boosters at the end of Q4 2016, and 6,962 translators and boosters at the end of Q3 2016.

The other key takeaway is while FM translators grow in number, in many cases to provide “AM revitalization,” the number of AMs has declined to 4,639, compared to 4,646 on June 30. The AM station count has declined in every quarter since the end of 2016.

BROADCAST STATION TOTALS AS OF SEPT. 30, 2017

TOTAL BROADCAST STATIONS: 32,975
(Total as of June 30, 2017): 32,867

AM STATIONS                  4639
FM COMMERCIAL             6748
FM EDUCATIONAL            4116
TOTAL                          15,503

UHF COMMERCIAL TV      1019
VHF COMMERCIAL TV       359
UHF EDUCATIONAL TV      286
VHF EDUCATIONAL TV      109
TOTAL                            1,773

CLASS A UHF STATIONS   379
CLASS A VHF STATIONS    24

FM TRANSLATORS & BOOSTERS 7575
UHF TRANSLATORS               2886
VHF TRANSLATORS               864
TOTAL                                 11,325

UHF LOW POWER TV             1595
VHF LOW POWER TV              369
TOTAL                                  1,964

LOW POWER FM 2007            2,007


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