FM Translator Surge Doesn’t Stop: The Latest Broadcast Station Totals


The FCC on Tuesday (7/9) released its Broadcast Station Totals for the second quarter of 2019. The biggest headline from the new totals: Translators and boosters remain highly important to licensees, and continue to grow in number.

At the same time, there was a dip in the number of commercially licensed FM radio stations, while FM noncomms were on the rise — perhaps spurred by the sale of six Cumulus Media stations including WPLJ in New York; WRQX in Washington, D.C.; and WZAT-FM in Savannah, Ga., to Educational Media Foundation.

Commercial UHF stations also declined in number, thanks, in part, to the post-spectrum auction repack process.

On the TV side, the number of commercially licensed UHF facilities is just over 1,000.

The number of commercial VHF stations remains 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 was 267.

On the radio side, there are now 6,726 commercially licensed FMs in the U.S. That compares to a year-end 2016 total of 6,746 and is reflective of conversions of stations recently sold to religious broadcasters.

Of course, the ceaseless 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 4,610. 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.


TOTAL BROADCAST STATIONS: 33, 508 (up 72 from end of Q1 2019)
(Comparison to June 30, 2018): 33,133

All comparisons below to the end of Q1 2019

AM STATIONS                  4610 (minus 3)
FM COMMERCIAL             6726 (minus 36)
FM EDUCATIONAL            4179 (plus 40)
TOTAL                          15,515 (plus 1)

UHF COMMERCIAL TV      1001 (minus 12)
VHF COMMERCIAL TV       370 (no change)
UHF EDUCATIONAL TV      267 (plus 4)
VHF EDUCATIONAL TV      119 (plus 4)
TOTAL                            1,757 (minus 4)

CLASS A UHF STATIONS   357 (no change)
CLASS A VHF STATIONS    30 (no change)

(from 7952, and from 7721 as of June 30, 2018)

UHF TRANSLATORS               2742 (up 3)
VHF TRANSLATORS               906 (down 2)
TOTAL                                 11,744 (from 11,695)

UHF LOW POWER TV             1445 (down 11)
VHF LOW POWER TV             452 (no change)
TOTAL                                  1,897 (down 11) 

LOW POWER FM             2,178 (up 7)