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AMs on FM Translators Becomes ‘Real’ in October

Rule change meant to help AMs provide listenable signal amidst increasing noise

The new Federal Communication Commission rule allowing AMs to operate on FM translators in certain instances to fill-in coverage gaps goes into effect Oct. 1. Publication in the Federal Register triggered the effective date.

The changes, which broadcasters had asked for, are intended to help AM stations provide a listenable signal throughout their existing coverage areas and better serve the public.

Not only do stations on the AM band face competition from higher fidelity sources of programming, including FM, satellite and Internet radio, but man-made interference sources have also multiplied, “creating a higher level of interference to AM signals at all hours,” said the FCC in its decision.

Previously, FM translators were only authorized to rebroadcast FM stations and other FM translators. The rule changes passed by the FCC in June (FCC 09-59) allow FM translators to rebroadcast AM radio stations within those stations’ current coverage areas.

In addition, AM stations with daytime-only facilities will be allowed to originate programming on such FM translators during periods when the AM stations are not operating.