AM radio stations owners should mark April 10th on their calendars. That is the official effective date for new FCC rules governing FM translator location—and it gives AM stations more options than before in placing those translators.

AM stations use FM translators to fill in coverage gaps in their broadcast area. The new rule says an AM station’s FM translator can be located:

  1. So that it’s dBμ (service area) contour is contained within the AM station’s 2 mV/m contour or
  2. The dBμ contour may be contained within a 25-mile radius from the FM translator site.

The current rule, which will be replaced by the rule taking effect April 10th, stated that FM translators had to comply with both of those contour tests.

According to an FCC press release, the Commission revised its rules in February 2017 to give “AM broadcasters seeking to rebroadcast their signals over FM translators more flexibility in locating the cross-service fill-in translators.”

Womble Carlyle Telecom attorney John Garziglia tells Radio Ink that the new FCC regulations may give AM stations even flexibility than stated in the FCC release.

“It allows any FM translator moved under the 250-mile window to “further move its cross-service FM translator already relocated pursuant to the 2016 modification windows, as a minor modification application, as long as the proposed further modification complies [with both the newly-adopted siting rule and the 250-mile limitation imposed in the AM Revitalization First Report and Order],” Garziglia tells Radio Ink.

This rule change was adopted in the FCC’s Second Report and Order in the Matter of Revitalization of the AM Radio Service.

Garziglia said AM station officials should consult with their attorneys and engineers to determine what is allowable under the new, expanded guidelines.