WASHINGTON, DC—In May, the FCC will consider changes to its rules and procedures regarding FM translator interference. Womble Bond Dickinson telecom attorney John Garziglia examines the proposed changes in a new Radio Ink article.

According to the FCC, the rules and procedure changes are designed to provide quicker and less contentious resolutions to interference disputes, improve the ability of translator licensees to remediate interference, and help affected stations resolve interference complaints in a more timely fashion.

“Of great benefit to FM translators, FM translators will be able to move to any same-band channel as a minor change upon a simple showing of interference reduction, rather than as now being limited to 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and I.F. channels. For FM translators in non-frequency-congested areas, this will offer opportunities for both interference complaint remediation and facility improvements in making changes,” Garziglia writes in Radio Ink. However, he said existing stations should be on the lookout for possible interference from such relocations.

After listening to industry feedback, the FCC also is proposing new outer contour limits for interference complaints. “FM translator interference complainants outside of those approximate mileages will no longer be accepted by the FCC,” Garziglia said.

Radio stations submitting an interference complaint would have to include a certain number of listener complaints, as well, as an engineering study with map plots of the alleged interference and other relevant technical data. The station also must show that it has informed the translator licensee of the interference and attempted to resolve the problem.

“Upon these submissions, the burden of proof shifts to the FM translator. A failure to then remediate all of the interference complaints by the FM translator licensee within a target time period of 90 days will result in the FM translator being ordered off the air,” Garziglia writes.

Garziglia said that the FCC is in the last stages of information-gathering. Broadcasters have through approximately May 2 to submit final comments to the FCC.

Click here to read “FM Translator Rule Changes. It’s Complicated” by John Garziglia in Radio Ink. Also, this article was reprinted in Radio World. 

John Garziglia represents radio and television broadcasters, offering personalized assistance in all areas of communications and telecommunications law including transactional and contract negotiations for broadcast station mergers and acquisitions, the securing of financing, governmental auctions of new frequencies, license renewals, new stations applications, facility changes, facility upgrades, licensing, and compliance with FCC rules, regulations and policies.