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FM Dominates Growth in Broadcast Station Totals

Low-power FM crosses 2,000 mark, AM category sees more decline

FM spectrum is still very much in demand in the United States, based on the latest FCC licensing data totals.

The lower-power segments of translators and low-power FMs have been particularly vibrant, but recent times have seen relatively healthy growth across that band. Per the latest quarterly commission data report, as of Sept. 30 all FM categories showed growth compared to both one and five years ago. But the number of AM licenses has declined; according to the report, there are 4,639 AM licenses operating in the U.S.; that’s down 106 from 2012 — and 32 fewer than just one year ago.

Conversely, we’ve seen increases in FM commercial and educational licenses. In 2012, there were 6,580 FM commercial and 3,803 educational licenses; the report puts the current total at 6,748 commercial and 4,116 educational. Those numbers are also up from last year, though only slightly.

The largest growth, however, has occurred in FM translators and boosters. In 2012 the FCC counted 6,103 FM translator and booster licenses; that continued to grow to 6,962 last year; and with the FCC deploying more translators as a matter of policy to help out AM broadcasters, the past year saw even more growth. There are now 7,575 FM translators and boosters licensed, with more to come thanks to the latest application window.

Meanwhile the LPFM segment now has more than 2,000 licenses — 2,007, to be exact — which is up almost 400 in the last year and well more than double its 822 of five years back.

To see the full report from the FCC, click here.