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FM Radio Duplication Rule Kicks Back in on Aug. 2

The FCC said stations planning to ask for a waiver should do so early

Aug. 2 is the date on which the FCC’s radio duplication rule takes effect again.

As we reported earlier, the commission in June granted a petition filed by REC Networks, the MusicFirst Coalition and the Future of Music Coalition asking it to reinstate the rule for commercial FM stations in the United States.

The rule becomes effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, which happened on Wednesday July 3, so it takes effect Aug. 2.

“For licensees that exceed the duplication allowance of the reinstated rule, the order affords them a six-month grace period,” the commission noted. That period runs to Feb. 3, 2025.

The FCC encouraged licensees that plan to seek waivers of the reinstated rule to submit those requests by the end of October, though it’s not a hard deadline.

“Unless and until a licensee’s waiver request is denied, it may continue duplicating programming beyond the 25% duplication allowance,” it wrote.

“Additionally, in the event that a licensee’s waiver request is denied, the commission may grant additional time, not to exceed six months, for the licensee to come into compliance.”

The rule prohibits duplication of FM programming beyond a 25% threshold. The FCC eliminated the rule for both AM and FM services in 2020, when the agency had a Republican majority, but the Democratic majority now has restored it. The National Association of Broadcasters opposed the reinstatement.

The change is to Part 73 of Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations. It will now state that no commercial FM radio station “shall operate so as to devote more than 25 percent of the total hours in its average broadcast week to programs that duplicate those of any station in the same service which is commonly owned or with which it has a time brokerage agreement if the principal community contours (predicted 3.16 mV/m) of the stations overlap and the overlap constitutes more than 50 percent of the total principal community contour service area of either station.” Duplication means “the broadcasting of identical programs within any 24-hour period.”

According to the FCC, questions about this rule should be directed to John Bat in the Industry Analysis Division of Media Bureau at 202-418-7921.

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