FCC Adopts New Translator Interference Rules

FCC Federal Communications Commission Radio AM FM TranslatorThe FCC has approved changes to the process governing translator interference complaints.

The new rules, which take effect once published in the Federal Register, will allow translators to minor change to any other frequency to resolve interference issues, establishes a minimum number of listener complaints needed to be submitted, standardize what the complaints need to include, and how complaints are resolved. Scott Fybush detailed the changes and what they mean in a recent column.

The Federal Communications Commission today adopted a Report and Order that streamlines and improves the FM translator interference complaint and resolution process.

FM translator stations rebroadcast the signal of an AM or FM station. The increasing number of FM translator stations, as well as their growing economic importance for AM and digital FM stations, has led to industry interest in improving the rules governing FM translator interference complaints. Currently, even one listener complaint, at any distance from the desired FM station, can result in an FM translator station having to cease operations. Moreover, there are often prolonged disputes over the validity of the interference claim.

Today’s Order provides additional certainty and reduces the costs and burdens of the existing interference claim and resolution process by:

  • Allowing translator operators to change frequency to any available same-band channel as a minor change in response to interference issues
  • Establishing a minimum number of listener complaints, proportionate to the population the complaining station serves, that a station would need to submit with any claim of interference
  • Standardizing the contents of each listener complaint
  • Establishing interference resolution procedures that permit, but do not require, complaining listeners to cooperate with remediation efforts, and implementing an
    alternative, technically-based process for demonstrating that interference has been
  • Establishing an outer contour limit for actionable interference complaints while allowing waivers of that limit for interference complaints that meet specified criteria
  • Action by the Commission May 9, 2019 by Report and Order (FCC 19-40). Chairman Pai,
    Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr, Rosenworcel, and Starks approving. Chairman Pai,
    Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr, and Starks issuing separate statements

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