Translator question
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Thread: Translator question

  1. #1

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    Translator question

    I have a question about translators. I know translators can't originate programming unless its a translator of a day-time only AM station and correct me if I'm wrong, but also if the AM station is off the air due to technical problems.

    Here's the question.

    Let's say there is a hypothetical station called KZZZ-AM 1390 and they currently have an FM translator on 93.9 FM. Let's say the owner of KZZZ acquires another translator on 99.7 FM and they want to move KZZZ's programming to the 99.7 translator. Would it be legal to run a looped announcement on the 93.9 translator announcing that KZZZ's programming has moved to 99.7 FM?

  2. #2
    No, broadcasting a looped announcement like that would not be legal, unless they can translate some other full-power station.

    The most likely way to make it legal would be to re-assign 93.9FM to translate full-power FM KZZZ-FM HD3, which could originate the looped message.
    "Its music what makes a radio station, and at Live FM, we play the last music around."
    After receiving that copy, I quit the VO industry.

  3. #3
    They could, however, make the announcement via RDS, if the translator was so equipped.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by PTBoardOp94 View Post
    No, broadcasting a looped announcement like that would not be legal, unless they can translate some other full-power station.

    The most likely way to make it legal would be to re-assign 93.9FM to translate full-power FM KZZZ-FM HD3, which could originate the looped message.
    That's assuming there is a full-power KZZZ-FM. Marc seems to be describing a stand-alone AM with a translator, whose owner has just acquired another. I guess the owner would have to own another station in order to do that, but wouldn't that station also have to be an AM?

  5. #5

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    The way I read the rules, once an AM station applies for and obtains a translator it must always remain a translator for only that station. If the owner acquires or leases a translator where the FCC allows the translated station to change at will, that AM owner can lease or operate as many as they can afford based on FCC restrictions.

    Translator rules are pretty tricky. You don't have to have a radio station to apply for and get a translator. You do have to stipulate the station you will translate but in a normal translator filing window that can change to whatever station you choose as allowed by FCC Rules (the station has to give you permission to do so). There is not a limit on how many you can own unless you are a Low Power FM or an AM station. A translator acquired by an AM station forever must be that specific station that is being translated and you can't just sell it off.

    Translators that are from regular translator filing windows can typically be leased by any station that might qualify to have a translator. That can be an HD channel, a non-commercial FM, an AM station or a LPFM station. There is not a limit on how many you can lease but there might be a limit on how many you own.

    For example, a LPFM (Low Power FM) is heard on 6 translators but the FCC says they can only own two. In this case, they own two but lease 4 'regular' translators from the licensees.

    If an AM station acquired an FM translator, it would, in my understanding, be allowable for the AM to lease other 'regular' FM translators as well. There might be a hoop to jump through. Such a hoop might be leasing an FM HD channel from another broadcaster so you are technically retransmitting the HD channel you lease.

    No translator can originate programming. The FCC allows up to 30 seconds an hour for a translator to 'fundraise' to cover the cost of the translator operation if they choose to do so. So, no, running a loop is illegal as it is originating programming.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by b-turner View Post
    The way I read the rules, once an AM station applies for and obtains a translator it must always remain a translator for only that station.
    It is not that simple.

    It depends on how the AM station obtained the translator. If the translator already existed in the market and was purchased by the AM operator, there are no conditions binding the translator to that AM, and it (generally) can be changed to any other primary station at will.

    If the translator was purchased and moved in the "250-mile window" in 2016, it carries with it a four-year holding period once licensed at its new location. After those four years of continuous operation are up, it can be sold or transferred and can change primary stations.

    If the translator was granted in the most recent Auction 99/Auction 100 windows, it will be bound permanently to its parent AM station (until/unless the FCC changes its rules.)

    I caution all my translator clients to consult competent legal counsel along the way. Complicated regulations like this are just one reason why.

    No translator can originate programming. The FCC allows up to 30 seconds an hour for a translator to 'fundraise' to cover the cost of the translator operation if they choose to do so. So, no, running a loop is illegal as it is originating programming.
    I believe - but would check with counsel myself before advising a client - that that rule applies only to "non-fill-in" translators that are owned by a third party, not the licensee of the parent station. That would exclude pretty much every AM-on-FM translator.

    Again, consultation with competent counsel is worth every penny here for anyone actually thinking of doing anything like this themselves.
    All kinds of good stuff over at http://www.fybush.com

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