Translator Question

This topic contains 9 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Screamer 2 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #30321

    Screamer
    Participant

    Please forgive my lack of engineering expertise in this question:

    Are translators for FM stations allowed to extend the broadcast range of a station?

    I was under the impression that translators, owned by stations, could only be placed in the 2mv contour. I was also under the impression that in order to extend a station’s range, that translator must be owned by a 3rd party and that 3rd party asked for the specific station to be rebroadcast in their market (like a translator association would do for TV).

    Am I mixing up the AM and FM rules, here?
    Again, let me apologize in advance for the question.
    Thanks!

    #30323

    Andy Brown
    Participant

    Translators intended as fill in service for FM stations must not extend coverage (the 60 dBu contour of the translator may not extend beyond the 60 dBu contour of the station it is filling in.

    Translators that are not fill in service obviously are not bound by this rule.

    Each of these translator types can either be in the reserved band (non commercial educational 88 – 92 MHz) or in the non reserved band (commercial stations 92 – 108). Different rules apply.

    Translators deployed as part of the Revitalize the AM band program have limitations as far as their coverage. The translator’s 60 dBu service contour must be within the SMALLER of (1) a 25 mile (40 km) radius circle from the AM station’s transmitter site AND (2) the AM station’s 2.0 mV/m contour.

    The ownership rule you are confusing is intended for non fill in translators and does not apply to the AM’s deploying FM translators (i.e. they can own them).

    Here is the complete picture:

    https://www.fcc.gov/media/radio/fm-translators-and-boosters

    Happy reading! Any questions just post them here and I’ll try and answer them.

    #30325

    Screamer
    Participant

    Thanks, Andy! I am trying to familiarize myself with the different stations and their reach in the various markets (Because I guess I need a hobby? For some reason, this stuff interests me) and came across what I believe to be an anomaly. So I was trying to see if it was just ignorance on my part, reading something wrong or, if I am seeing something that is actually incorrect.

    The Classical station, KQAC, has a signal that doesn’t quite reach Albany, according to the contour maps. They have a sister station, KQOC in Glenden Beach. It also does not reach Albany for the contour. Yet, they have a translator in Albany/Flynn which appears to extend their broadcast range, as opposed to operating in the contour.

    I have cross-referenced FCC database and Radio Locator. Am I just not reading this right?

    #30326

    Andy Brown
    Participant

    I’m not at home at the moment but a third party owned translator can provide service outside the primary coverage (60 dBu)area. This would be a non fill translator that only needs permission to rebroadcast the signal.

    #30327

    Andy Brown
    Participant

    K239BP Flynn, OR (97.5) is a non fill in translator independently owned and licensed to Community Media Assistance Project and is NCE (non commercial educational) but operates in the non reserved band. It rebroadcasts the signal from KQOC Gleneden Beach, OR.

    http://bit.ly/2tA6NYA

    http://bit.ly/2tzSqDn

    #30328

    fieldstrength
    Participant

    Non-comm licensees are allowed to own and operate non fill-in translators. Commercial stations cannot. All non fill-in translators in the non-reserved band (92-108 MHz) must be fed over the air. Other translators can be fed by other means, such as Internet or satellite.

    #30332

    mwdxer1
    Participant

    In reality FM translators seem to cover better that AM, even running at 250w ERP. I live North of Seaside, and KXRO Aberdeen WA, KBAM-Longview WA both get out better on FM. I get them both at about 50 miles distance from each one, excellent 24/7. But it depends on where the towers are too. KSWB Seaside has their antenna on the AM Tower and does not cover near as well.

    #30334

    Andy Brown
    Participant

    “Non-comm licensees are allowed to own and operate non fill-in translators.”

    Not all non comm licensees are treated equally, though. LPFM’s can only own two translators and there are location restrictions. https://recnet.com/lpfm-translators

    “In reality FM translators seem to cover better that AM, even running at 250w ERP.”

    I disagree. Outperform overall, perhaps, but coverage is a word that is subjective.

    A poorly thought out comparison. It’s apples and oranges. Comparisons between AM and FM coverage, to be worth talking about, have to take into account the fundamental differences between the modes of transmission. AM is inherently noisy. Two millivolts of AM versus 1 mV (60 dBu) of FM is a pretty close equivalency because/in spite of the typical S/N ratios those field strengths can deliver. A 50 kW AM signal, from the RF propagation point of view, outperforms most 100 kW FM signals if it’s just RF you’re looking at.

    #30335

    Andy Brown
    Participant

    Screamer, there was a time when translators served a useful purpose by bringing service to areas that had none. But somewhere along the way, the rules began to and still are being abused big time. Small FM’s owned by huge religious organizations are mostly to blame but at this point all the big commercial license groups have jumped on the abuse translator rules bandwagon.

    Small FM’s that feed 100’s of satellite fed translators turn these translators into huge networks that impose unwanted programming into markets where such programming would normally be an instant ticket to bankruptcy. Add to that the big commercial stations using “fill in translators” where the primary station doesn’t have a reception problem in order to provide a presence on the FM dial that otherwise could not be obtained is just more of the MacDonalds approach to saturating the dial with their poor out of market automated boring programming is not a recipe for public service.

    #30341

    Screamer
    Participant

    Thank you, Andy and everyone. I appreciate the insight!

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