FM Translator, Booster Total Hits New High

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The FCC on Tuesday (4/2) released its Broadcast Station Totals for the first quarter of 2019. The biggest headline from the new totals: Translators and boosters are still of high interest to licensees, and in a big way.


There was also another rise in the number of commercially licensed FM radio stations. Commercial UHF stations also climbed in number thanks, in part, to the post-spectrum auction repack process.

On the TV side, the number of commercially licensed UHF facilities is now 1,013. But, it remains down from 1,015 at the end of Q2 2018.

Meanwhile, the number of commercial VHF stations stands at 370. This compares to 362 at the end of Q2, and 350 at the end of the first quarter of 2017.

Meanwhile, the number of UHF noncomm stations fell to 263; it was at 271 at the end of Q2 2018.

Looking at Class A facilities, UHF stations slipped again; Class A VHF stations number 30.

On the radio side, there are now 6,762 commercially licensed FMs in the U.S. That compares to a year-end 2016 total of 6,746 and reinforces the continued strength of radio’s most commonly accessed band in an age when many assume digital audio is the most common source of programming and content.

But, the continued surge in FM translators and boosters is the biggest takeaway. As of the end of 2018 some 8,048 FM translators and boosters were licensed nationwide. That’s up from 7,721 in Q2; 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 number of AMs declined again, moving to 4,613. Some 4,633 AMs were tallied at the end of the first half of 2018, and this compares to 4,646 on June 30, 2017.

The AM station count has declined in all quarters since the end of 2016.


BROADCAST STATION TOTALS AS OF MARCH 31, 2019

TOTAL BROADCAST STATIONS: 33,436 (up 94 from end of Q4 2018)
(Comparison to June 30, 2018): 33,133

All comparisons below to the end of Q4 2018

AM STATIONS                  4613 (minus 6)
FM COMMERCIAL             6762 (plus 8)
FM EDUCATIONAL            4139 (plus 4)
TOTAL                          15,514 (plus 6)

UHF COMMERCIAL TV      1013 (plus 7)
VHF COMMERCIAL TV       370 (plus 3)
UHF EDUCATIONAL TV      263 (minus 7)
VHF EDUCATIONAL TV      115 (minus 3)
TOTAL                            1,761 (unchanged)

CLASS A UHF STATIONS   357 (down 2)
CLASS A VHF STATIONS    30 (up 2)

FM TRANSLATORS & BOOSTERS 8048 (from 7952, and from 7721 as of June 30, 2018)
UHF TRANSLATORS               2739 (down 5)
VHF TRANSLATORS               908 (down 2)
TOTAL                                 11,695 (from 11,606)

UHF LOW POWER TV             1456 (down 16)
VHF LOW POWER TV             452 (up 16)
TOTAL                                  1,908 (unchanged) 

LOW POWER FM             2,171 (down 1)