The staff of the Audio Division at the Federal Communications Commission’s Media Bureau has been busy processing applications from AM stations in the currently open FM translator window.
More than one broadcaster has commented to Radio World about how quickly applications have been processed. And according to James Bradshaw, deputy division chief of the Audio Division, the commission indeed considers it a priority.
“We have heard many first-hand accounts of how important these translators have been to AM stations around the country,” he said. “The division’s top FM licensing priority is to promptly process these window applications so the translators may be quickly moved to areas where they are needed.”
The division has received some 250 applications in this window, most of which were filed on the first day, Bradshaw said. So far the commission has granted about 70, all in the past week or so, on top of continuing to process earlier translator apps as well.
The current window began July 29 and is open to all U.S. AM band stations through the end of October. It is the second in a multi-part translator initiative in the commission’s AM revitalization program. The process has seen keen industry-wide interest in translator sales and strategies in what Radio World has dubbed the “Year of the Translator.” (Just today one translator sale was announced with a $700,000 price tag.)
The first part ran from late January to late July and was limited to Class C and D AM stations looking to apply to modify or relocate one authorized non-reserved band FM translator station up to 250 miles; it produced about 670 applications. The commission granted 610 and dismissed 26. The remaining 30-plus applications have objections filed against them or involve other issues such as tower registration or international approval, Bradshaw said.
One participant has been impressed with the commission’s turnaround.
“Crawford is very pleased with the Media Bureau in this process,” said Cris Alexander, director of engineering for Crawford Broadcasting and a Radio World contributor. “They have been fast and efficient in processing, and they have been good to quickly answer questions when we submitted them.”
The process has proceeded smoothly for Crawford Broadcasting, which filed most of its applications on the opening days of each of the two windows. It ended up filing amendments on two applications in the first window to cure mutually exclusive situations. In most cases Crawford received grants within a few weeks — including grants on five applications on the 14th day of the current window.
Clearly the FCC has made processing these translator applications a priority, Alexander said. “It appears that they are culling out the MXes and defective applications, then quickly working through the singletons and otherwise-grantable applications,” he said. “That is a great way to do it.”
“All this is great news for the radio industry in general, but especially for AM licensees,” he said.