FCC Improves Translator Interference Complaint Process
|RADIO ONLINE | Thursday, May 9, 2019|
The FCC has adopted a Report and Order meant to streamline and improve the FM translator interference complaint and resolution process. The Commission noted that the increasing number of FM translator stations, as well as their growing economic importance for AM and digital FM stations, has led to industry interest in improving the rules governing FM translator interference complaints. Currently, even one listener complaint, at any distance from the FM station, can result in an FM translator station having to cease operations. Moreover, the Commission said there are often prolonged disputes over the validity of the interference claim.
The FCC's Order provides additional certainty and reduces the costs and burdens of the existing interference claim and resolution process by allowing translator operators to change frequency to any available same-band channel as a minor change in response to interference issues. It also established a minimum number of listener complaints, proportionate to the population the complaining station serves, that a station would need to submit with any claim of interference Additionally, it standardizes the contents of each listener complaint and establishes interference resolution procedures.
In a statement, Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said, "New technology or new policies can bring new opportunities but also new challenges. Here we grapple with how to handle interference concerns related to a recent influx of translators. Although translators receive only secondary protection, they are crucial parts of our radio landscape that allow signals to reach distant communities and navigate tricky terrain. This item considers the robust record to try to balance interference concerns with the need for both FM stations and translators to continue to provide service to listeners."
NAB Executive VP/Communications Dennis Wharton said, "The FCC deserves credit for endorsing a common-sense compromise for reviewing FM radio listener complaints alleging interference from FM translators. FM translators have been enormously helpful extending the reach of AM radio stations. We're pleased the FCC continues to embrace ideas that foster the revitalization of AM radio."