On October 31, 2016, the Media Bureau closed the second of two filing windows designed to allow AM stations to tackle reception issues by relocating FM translators up to 250 miles so they can re-broadcast the AM stations’ signals. This can enable some stations for the first time to provide nighttime service to their communities. The Commission opened the windows as part of a broader policy to give relief to AM broadcasters, many of whom were experiencing degraded signals.
While the second of these windows just closed, it is not too early to call the relocation program a resounding success. In the first window, which was open to smaller and daytime-only AM stations, 671 relocation applications were filed, and over 90% of those applications already have been granted. In the second window, open to all classes of AM stations, 420 relocation applications were received, with 265 granted thus far. Though a few of the AM licensees already owned or could lease the necessary translators, a substantial majority of the licensees participating in the windows chose to acquire the relocating translators, thereby ensuring a permanent place for their programming on the FM dial. Seven hundred sixty-six translator assignment applications were filed during the two windows, and 631 of those already have been granted.
Allowing FM translators to be moved to where they can be most useful to an AM station was a good idea. But a good idea needs good implementation. These filing windows would not have succeeded without the outstanding effort of the Audio Division’s engineering staff, who processed the modification applications, its legal staff, who expedited the companion assignment applications, and its managers, who orchestrated the effort with great skill. Their exemplary work provides relief to AM broadcasters as the Commission continues to revitalize the AM broadcast band.