250 mile waiver for translators

Late yesterday, the FCC released the Public Notice setting out the instructions for the upcoming window for Class C and D AM stations to file for new FM translators. The window will be open for the submission of applications from July 26 to August 2 – and mutually exclusive applications filed during that window will

At the NAB Convention, Chairman Pai announced that the promised windows for AM stations to apply for new FM translators would open this summer (see our article here). It now looks as if that promise is about to become a reality as on Friday the FCC added to its list of “items on circulation” a Public Notice announcing that window. Each week, the FCC updates this list of items on circulation (see the list here). These “items” are the orders that have been written by the FCC staff and are now being reviewed by the Commissioners themselves.  Once these items are reviewed and approved, often in a matter of days or a few weeks, they are released to the public. So it looks like the formal announcement on the dates for the windows will be coming very soon.

If adopted and released to the public by the FCC in the next few weeks, that announcement will likely set a date for filing for these translators – probably opening the first window about 60 days after the notice is released. Applications would then be filed in the window set for these filings. This could mean that the first window could open as early as July.  The Commission will be opening two windows. The first will be for Class C and D AM stations. Once those applications have been filed, a second window will open for Class A and B AM stations. Only AM stations that did not file for a translator relying on the 250 mile waivers available last year (see our article here) are eligible to apply for translators in these upcoming windows. Stations that acquired translators through other means can still apply for a new translator in this window. However, only one new translator will be available in this window for each AM eligible to file.
Continue Reading Announcement of FCC Window for AM Stations to File For New FM Translators Coming Very Soon

As we wrote last week, the FCC approved the expanded use of FM translators by AM stations – allowing their use anywhere within a 25-mile radius of their AM transmitter site, or within the 2 mv/m contour of the AM station – whichever is greater.  The current rule restricts that will be replaced limit

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced yesterday that he plans to test a new FCC procedure – releasing drafts of FCC orders to be considered at future FCC meetings at the same time as the proposed agenda for the meeting is released, weeks in advance of the meeting. On the draft agenda for the February 23rd meeting are two items of interest for broadcasters, and draft orders for both of these items were released yesterday – one for radio and one for TV. By releasing these drafts early, all parties affected by the orders can review them and spot issues which can be brought to the Commissioners’ attention before the orders are adopted. We write about the radio item below, and will cover the draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for next-generation TV using the ATSC 3.0 standard in a separate article.

For radio, the draft order would permit an expansion of the area in which an FM translator rebroadcasting an AM station can be located. Under current rules, the 1 mv/m contour of translator must be entirely contained within the lesser of the daytime 2 mv/m contour of the AM station or within a circle with a 25 mile radius from the AM transmitter site. With severely directional AM stations, sometimes the ones most in need of help from FM translators, translators can be restricted to service areas only a few miles from the primary AM station in some directions – leaving the AM stations unable to serve their entire market and fill in the holes in their coverage area. This issue was raised as one of many issues for consideration in the FCC’s AM revitalization proceeding, about which we wrote here. Under the draft order released yesterday, translators will now be able to be located in a much greater area – as long as the 1 mv/m contour stays within a 25 mile radius measured from the AM site or within the 2 mv/m contour of the AM station – whichever is greater. This promises to give all AM stations the opportunity to serve their markets with FM translators and, for larger AM stations, gives them the ability to fill in their service areas with FM translators (perhaps multiple translators) over a much larger area.
Continue Reading FCC Chairman Pai Promotes Transparency – Releases Draft Orders on Next-Generation TV and FM Translators for AM Stations – What Will Be Considered for Radio at February FCC Meeting?

All this year, the FCC has been busy processing applications by AM broadcasters to buy an FM translator or a translator construction permit, and to move the translator as much as 250 miles to rebroadcast an AM station. We wrote about the Commission’s rules for these translator moves, as set out in December

While TV broadcasters can enjoy an incentive auction respite in July as attention shifts to the “forward auction” where we will see whether wireless carriers come up with enough money to fund the $86,422,558,704 (plus $1.75 billion for repacking costs, plus auction-related administrative costs) needed for the buyout of TV stations who agreed to surrender their spectrum, radio broadcasters will get some of their own attention as, at the end of the month, the second window for the filing of 250-mile waiver applications opens for Class A and B AM stations. We wrote about these waivers here, which allow an AM licensee to acquire an FM translator and file an application to move it up to 250 miles and operate it on any commercial frequency that does not create interference in their market. That window for Class A and B AM stations opens July 29 and runs through October 31 (and remains open for any other AM that has not already filed one of these waivers in the first window which opened back in January).

In addition to the AM window, there are routine filing deadlines for all TV stations – required to file their FCC Form 398 Children’s Television Reports by the 11th of the month (because the 10th of July is a Sunday) demonstrating the educational and informational programming they broadcast directed to children. By the 10th television stations also need to upload information into their online public files to demonstrate compliance with the limits on commercial time in children’s programs.
Continue Reading July Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – FM Translators for Class A and B AMs; Quarterly Issue Programs and Children’s Television Reports; Comments on EAS, Letters from the Public and Regulatory Fees, Cable Royalty Claims; and More