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FCC Changes FM Translator Rules to Include AM


The FCC has adopted changes in its FM translator rules to allow AM stations to use currently licensed FM translator stations to retransmit their AM service within the AM station's current coverage area. In addition, AM broadcast licensees with class D facilities will be allowed to originate programming on FM translators during periods when their AM station is not operating -- effectively granting an AM daytimer an opportunity to deliver a nighttime signal.

"We take these steps to 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 said its Report & Order. "We concluded that authorizing FM translators to rebroadcast AM signals may exacerbate the fundamental problems of the service, rather than ameliorate them."

In previous times, the Commission's rules precluded an FM translator from rebroadcasting the signal of any station other than that of an FM radio broadcast station or FM translator. The general belief was that AM stations did not have coverage holes necessitating fill-in service because primary AM signals are ground waves that are not impeded by irregular terrain.

"Based on the comments received in response to the NAB petition and the NPRM, we have reached the conclusion that our efforts to improve conditions on the AM band have been useful, but those efforts simply cannot overcome the technical limitations of the AM band. Accordingly, we find that significant changes in the environment in which AM stations operate warrant a fresh look at allowing AM stations to use FM translators as a fill-in service," the agency said.

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