That’s the question major U.S. radio networks, including Learfield, Orbital Media Networks (OMNi), Premiere Networks, Skyview Networks and Westwood One, are jointly asking.
The five syndicated radio programming companies have joined efforts to proactively determine the best replacement for AMC-8, at 139 degrees West Longitude.
The satellite has exceeded its design life and is not being replaced by an equivalent C-band satellite at the same location.
The new main satellite for U.S. commercial radio networks will be AMC-18, at 105 degrees West Longitude, which will soon be replaced at the 105 position by the new SES-11.
SES-1, at 101 degrees West Longitude, will serve as the backup.
To best prepare for the transition, there will be an overlap period of several months during which the radio networks will provide service on both AMC-8 and AMC-18/SES-11.
All radio stations currently receiving programming from AMC-8 will have until June 30, 2017 to re-point their downlink antennas (a.k.a. dishes).
At that time, AMC-8 will no longer serve as the radio network “neighborhood,” and there will not be a suitable replacement satellite at the 139 degree position.
Stations can repoint their satellite downlinks as early as February 2017.
In an important note to station engineers, AMC-18 and SES-11 are higher up in the sky, roughly due south of Denver, and they are less likely to be blocked by buildings or trees to the southwest.
There are also fewer miles of precipitation to look through at the 105 West location, and sun transit outages in March and October will occur about 2.5 hours earlier in the day, alleviating interruption of afternoon drive programming.