Posted by: cinnamonlaw | October 15, 2009

It’s Official – An FM Translator License Can Specify an AM as its Primary Station

New rules adopted by the FCC in a June 29, 2009 Report and Order allowing FM translator licenses to specify AM stations as their “primary” stations to rebroadcast became effective on October 1, 2009. These new rules are intended to provide a much needed boost to AM stations, particularly daytime-only stations and those stations that must drastically reduce their power at sundown.  

With Special Temporary Authorizations (“STAs”) from the FCC, over 200 AM stations were already using FM translators to replicate as best as possible their daytime coverage area at night.  State broadcasters associations and the not-for-profit AM Daytimers Association that I co-founded voiced their support for the proposed rule changes before the FCC.  As a result, the STAs will be terminated and all AM stations that are utilizing FM translators by way of STAs will have to file appropriate paperwork with the FCC to change the license of the FM translator to specify the AM station as the primary rebroadcast station.  AM stations can continue to work out agreements with existing FM translators under the rules.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is, according to the FCC,  there won’t be a filing window for new FM translators until after a new LPFM filing window occurs.

While the relief for AM stations is welcome, it may not be permanent.  FM translators are “secondary services” meaning if a full-power FM station modifies in such a way as to create an interference problem with the translator, the full-power station, as a “primary service” takes priority and can ask the FCC to order the translator to modify or, in the worst case, cease operations.  The next logical step for AM stations is to convince the FCC that translators rebroadcasting AM stations should be given “primary status” to protect them from future encroachment from full-power FM stations.

Leave a comment if you agree, as that may be the next mission of the AM Daytimers Association.



  1. I believe that FM translators are the salvation for many AM stations across the country. AM operators should investigate any and all opportunities to acquire one.


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