FCC Station Counts: 2015 vs. 2005
We’re spectrum geeks here at Radio World so we always
have fun with the trivia question, “How many broadcast stations are there in
the United States?”
Longtime readers know the reply
should be, “Depends on how you define it.” But here are several ways you can
answer when the question comes up at your next scintillating cocktail party.
According to the freshest FCC report, there were 31,013 licensed
broadcast stations as of Sept. 30, 2015. That includes AM radio stations; FM
commercial and educational radio stations; UHF and VHF commercial and
educational TV; Class A UHF and VHF; FM translators and boosters; UHF and VHF
translators; UHF and VHF low-power TV; and low-power FM.
A more common question among our readers is, “How many radio stations are
there in the United States?” But again, it depends. Using the “traditional” definition
of AMs and full-power FMs, the number is now 15,470. Add in low-power FMs though
and the count is 16,834. Roll in FM translators and boosters too, and now you’re
at 23,256. (And the FCC doesn’t report digital radio multicast channels, which as
seen on car displays are essentially separate radio stations.)
We also enjoy seeing how these numbers change over time. The
Radio World research department has dug into the FCC archives today and unearthed
the numbers from a decade ago; they’re listed in the second column in the chart
below, which dramatically captures trends in license totals such
as an explosion in the number of translators (up 64% over 10 years); the growth
of FM educational (56%) and the expansion of LPFM, as well as big changes over
on the TV side of the biz.
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