A Game of “Chicken” in the Translator Market?
The author is
owner of WGTO(AM) and W266BS in Cassopolis, Mich. His commentaries are a
FCC translator window
No. 1 will open Jan. 29 for Class C and D AM stations looking to modify or
acquire FM translators. I am curious how things are going for stations looking
to make it happen.
Where are prices headed? Some say
you’ll need to be ready to fork over 60 to 150 grand. But there is more than
one school of thought on this. Given the 250-mile limit for moves, some would
think that prices for previously affordable remote translators would now be
inflated and provide a windfall for owners looking to sell. But consider the
law of supply and demand. And that is what I am most curious about.
Some stations will use the
first window to move an existing translator they currently operate to a better
frequency, with no purchase at all. Those left who want to purchase must first
find an available frequency, and that means a good session with a consulting
engineer who knows the ins and outs of translator apps. Not every station will
qualify due to band congestion at their location.
the number of AM stations really looking to buy may shrink.
What I see coming is a game
of “chicken.” The window opens now but the deadline isn’t until July. Brokers
may hold off on making final deals until they get an idea of how the winds of
value blow, hoping to keep prices high as time runs out. Or maybe they will
hope that the second window, which adds Class A and B stations to the mix, will
work better for them,
Station owners, on the other hand, may feel that any translator
license or CP in the non-reserved band in a 250-mile range is technically equal
in value for a move; and things may actually reverse. There could be a glut on
the market, and those high prices will collapse due to over-availability. This
could actually start a bidding war in reverse. This makes some sense. If you
have a couple hundred translators, including CPs, available in a 250-mile area,
it might be a buyer’s game as AM operators seek the best deal.
The closer we get to the end
of the six-month window, the lower prices might go as sellers get desperate to
cash in to some degree on CPs that will run out or very low-power rural
translators that will sit unpurchased once the 250-mile rule has expired. I
would like to know what brokers and owners have to say on this one. We are in
uncharted territory to be sure. Comment below or drop an email to email@example.com, and the
editors will forward your note to me.
How does that movie line go? “Fasten your seat belts boys, it’s
gonna be a bumpy night!” Or in this case six months!
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