FCC Unanimously OK’s Eased Translator Siting


In a widely expected unanimous vote, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and FCC Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Michael O’Rielly on Thursday approved a Second Report and Order that relaxes the siting rule for an FM fill-in translator rebroadcasting an AM broadcast station.

The vote at the FCC’s February Open Meeting means that an FM translator can now be located beyond 40 miles from an AM station’s transmitter. The R&O cited Univision Radio data regarding where its listeners are.

The protected contour for an FM translator station is its predicted 1 mV/m contour, the revised language states.

“The specifics of the rule change involve technical jargon that only broadcast engineers will probably understand,” Pai said ahead of the Commissioner’s vote. “But the real-world impact of this Order is simple: It will now be easier for AM stations to find a suitable location for their FM translators.  That, in turn, will make it easier for AM broadcasters to serve their local communities, particularly at night.”

The Order comes after Pai, as a Commissioner, in 2014 sought comment on a proposal to relax rules that he believed were too restrictive, in respect to the siting of FM translators — thus blocking some AM broadcasters from being able to purchase one.

In response to the FCC’s approval of the order,   “which grants more flexibility to AM broadcasters to locate FM translators. Broadcasters appreciate Chairman Pai’s leadership on the issue of AM revitalization, and we will continue working with him and Commissioners Clyburn and O’Rielly to strengthen the AM radio band.”