FCC Announces Filing Dates & Procedures for FM Translator Modification Windows

The FCC has announced filing dates and clarified procedures for the two upcoming windows during which an FM translator may file as a minor change to move up to 250 miles and to a different channel in order to serve as a fill-in translator for an AM station.
There are to be two windows: a “First Window” from January 29 through July 28, 2016 and a “Second Window” from July 29 through October 31, 2016. The First Window will enable a single translator to relocate to rebroadcast each Class C or Class D AM station; the Second Window will be for a translator to relocate to rebroadcast each AM station for which a translator had not been filed within the First Window (including a first opportunity to serve Class A and Class B stations).
The FCC provided the following important details:
• Only translators authorized to operate in the non-reserved band (channels 221-300) will be eligible to participate.
• No translator may be moved to the reserved band (channels 201-220).
• Each AM station can be specified only once as the primary station for translator moves filed in the windows. AM stations already being rebroadcast over one or more translators still will be eligible to serve as the primary station for a single filing during these windows.
• Applications within each window will be accepted on a “first-come, first-served” basis. Applications filed the same day will be considered mutually-exclusive, and conflicts will have to be resolved through settlement or technical amendments.
• If an application is dismissed or denied, it cannot be amended or re-filed, and no application to move another translator can specify the same AM primary station as in a dismissed or denied window application.
• The current fill-in rules will apply. Thus following the move a translator’s proposed coverage contour must lie entirely within both the AM station’s 2 mV/m daytime contour and a 25-mile radius of the AM site. The outcome of the pending rulemaking to relax this standard will not pertain to applications filed in either window.
• All applications and constructed facilities will be subject to the FCC’s translator interference rules.
• Applications must be filed electronically on FCC Form 349. In addition to specifying the purpose as a “minor change,” an Exhibit 1 must indicate that it is a “250-mile window application.”
• If an applicant is not the licensee of the proposed AM primary station at the time of filing, it must also affirmatively state that it has entered into a rebroadcast agreement with the AM licensee.
• No change in the specified AM primary station may be made until after four years of operation by the primary station (not counting any periods of silence).
• If an AM station later changes site, the translator may be modified as well, so long as the FCC’s “fill-in” and interference requirements are met.To facilitate planning for the two windows, the FCC will post two tools on its website at: www.fcc.gov/media/radio/am-revitalization. A “translator search tool” will identify all translator stations located within 250 miles of an AM site. A “translator channel finder” will identify channels available for use by FM translators at a given location.
Since applications are to be processed on a “first-come, first-served” basis, it is important to prepare to file on the first day of the relevant window

By Gregg Skall, MBA FCC Counsel

Womble Carlyle
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