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Found in Translation: The FCC OK’s FM Translators for AM Stations

'An overdue shot in the arm to AM radio stations'

AM stations will be able to use FM translators.

The FCC Monday adopted changes in its translator rules to allow AMs to use currently authorized FM translators to retransmit their AM service within their current AM coverage areas.

AMs will be allowed to use translators in this way as long as no portion of the 60 dBu contour of the translator extends beyond the smaller of a 25-mile radius from the AM transmitter or the 2 mV/m daytime contour of the AM station.

AM licensees with Class D facilities will be allowed to originate programming on FM translators during periods when their AM station is not operating.

The FCC said this step will “permit AM broadcasters to better serve their local communities and thus promote the commission’s bedrock goals of localism, competition and diversity in the broadcast media.”

The commission has been experimenting with allowing such uses after the National Association of Broadcasters requested the change.
While the decision might not revolutionize the AM service, it comes as a little bit of good news for AM operators who have faced an onslaught of tough business conditions in general, a challenging radio sales environment in particular and questions about the economic viability of their band. Commissioner Robert McDowell called it “an overdue shot in the arm to AM radio stations.”