FCC Alert: Two New Rulings of Importance

Greater Flexibility for Siting Translators with AM Primary Stations: As expected, the FCC has approved an order expanding the site locations from which FM translators can rebroadcast AM radio stations. The amended rule provides greater flexibility for an AM station to place a rebroadcasting FM translator in a location where it will better serve its AM station’s listeners. Under the old rule, an AM station could place a rebroadcasting FM translator at the lesser of the primary station’s 2 mV/m contour or 40km (25 miles) from the transmission point. The new rule allows the translator siting to be the greater of the 2 mV/m contour or the 40km distance.

Four California Translators For Sale: Licensed in the commercial band, these four translators had been used by a large Christian network in re-transmitting various FM stations and the network’s programming. As of October, 2016, the translators were dropped and the programming no longer re-transmitted. Now the owner would like to sell all four; collectively or individually. Because these four translators are closely located and within rated markets, we believe they would serve nicely for existing AM stations or for FM stations that want to tie them to HD programming. A presentation is available that shows the location and previous populations served. The combined population served was just under 1.5 million people. The asking price is based on a price per pop (“PPP”) of the previously covered populations at $745,000.

100% Foreign Ownership Now Allowable: The FCC’s Media Bureau has granted a petition by a pair of Australian citizens to control 100% of broadcast stations (four radio stations in Alaska and Texas). The declaratory ruling Feb. 23 allowing the ownership change, said the Petition had been unopposed and that it had consulted with the “relevant agencies” on law enforcement, national security, foreign policy and trade issues—and none of those agencies raised any objections or said any conditions should be put on the deal.

The ruling declared: ” … the grant of the Petition would: (1) increase the likelihood of continued service to small communities by authorizing investment by individuals who are ready, willing, and able to operate the stations based on their extensive experience operating them to date; (2) facilitate foreign investment in the U.S. broadcast radio market; and (3) potentially encourage reciprocal investment opportunities for U.S. companies in foreign markets. For these reasons, we find that grant of the Petition will serve the public interest.”