Thursday, August 16, 2007

FM translators of AM stations

The FCC has proposed to allow FM translators to relay AM stations. 

A handful of these are already authorized under STA.  (I'm aware of five, but the FCC document says there are eleven) 

The proposal would restrict the FM translators' 60dBu contour to within the 2mV/m daytime contour of the AM station, or a 25-mile radius of the AM transmitter site, whichever is less.  (60dBu is the radius to which most full-power FM stations are protected from interference.  The 60dBu contour of a 250-watt translator with antenna 100m high is 13km, about 8 miles.  Most translators are somewhat less powerful.)

Normally, a FM translator is required to go off the air when the station it's authorized to relay is off.  The FCC proposes to allow FM translators of daytime-only AM stations to continue operating after the associated AM goes off for the night.  (and for those of Class D AM stations with very low night powers to operate at night even if the associated AM station isn't using its AM night power)

Some questions the FCC is asking:

  • Should eligibility to apply be phased in?  (should daytime-only and "graveyard" AM stations get first shot?)

  • Should AM stations whose owners don't have an FM in the same market get first shot?

  • How many translators should a given AM be permitted?  (Wisconsin Public Radio proposed limiting a given AM station to ten FM translators)

  • Should AM owners be allowed to lease FM translators owned by others?  (normally FM translator owners may not receive compensation from the station being relayed)

  • Should FM translators operating below 92MHz be limited to relaying non-commercial AM stations?

  • (I also note it looks like old friend "" is no more, it
    seems to have been replaced by a new server  That
    probably explains some "weirdnesses" on the FCC website for the last
    week or so!)

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