March 2012
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This is just wrong

My apologies to all those who think that translators are more than relay points, a way to fill in coverage from the main FM station they are relaying.  They are not.  I read this bit of information on this morning:

Townsquare Media bought the Albany-licensed translator from Bud Williamson’s Digital Radio Broadcasting last year for $245,000, and the signs were that it would go soft AC as “Sunny.”

The translator is going on the air as a soft AC?  WHAT?  Further down in the article it goes on to say that the translator will actually be relaying an HD-2 channel from WQSH, 105.7, a station 22 miles away.  Oh, well, that makes it okay, right?

Lets start with FCC 74.1231(a), which states:

FM translators provide a means whereby the signals of AM or FM broadcast stations may be retransmitted to areas in which direct reception of such AM or FM broadcast stations is unsatisfactory due to distance or intervening terrain barriers, and a means for AM Class D stations to continue operating at night

Notice it says “FM” or “AM.”  Since we all know that FM stands for Frequency Modulation and AM stands for Amplitude Modulation, where does that leave HD Radio®, which is neither.  As a point of technicality, HD radio uses a OFDM modulation scheme.  It may seem stupid or simple to point that out, but that is the way the rules are written and HD Radio® is not AM or FM no matter which frequency band it is using.

The second point is that translators are not supposed to originate local programming.  Again, this is a simple work around.  By putting the programming on some HD2 channel from somewhere, it is legal.  They are not even trying to hide the fact that the translator is the main market signal, calling the station “Hot 99.1,” which is the frequency of W256BU, not the so called originating station, 105.7.

Blatant, blatant, blatant disregard for the intent of translator regulations and ownership regulations.  This is something that the FCC can address in its broadcast ownership review, but of course, they won’t.  This whole, wink, wink, nod, nod business is getting a little bit difficult to stomach.  The question is what can be done about it?


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