Wednesday, March 14, 2007

AM on the FM

The FCC has been turning over a new leaf as of late. No longer do these pesky "rules" obstruct things. Now just a couple well placed phone calls to senators, and representatives with a few well-timed campaign donations and you too can have a rule-defying Special Temporary Authorization (STA).

Cross-band translation is not permitted by the FCC's rules. There has been some debate for the last few years abotu changing this, but as of bnow, it is illgal for an FM stick to have an Am translator and vice versa. None-the-less certain stuffed shirts in the beltway have been working their mojo down at the FCC and getting around the rules. Here are two examples.

1. This first waiver was assisted by actions of House Budget Committee Chairman John Spratt [R] of South Carolina. On Jan. 31, 2007, the FCC issued an STA to Our Three Sons Broadcasting, licensee of WRHI-AM, Rock Hill, SC. This STA permits the AM station to rebroadcast its signal in Rock Hill, NC on 94.3 with an FM translator W232AX. STA posted here in pdf.

2. Murfreesboro, Tennessee based WGNS-AM was the first AM station in America to receive a federal waiver to expand its reach into the FM band legally. By adding two FM booster frequencies it now reaches all of Rutherford County. On March 1, WGNS began transmitting from both 100.5 FM and 101.9 FM along with its regular frequency at 1450 AM. The station claims this is to improve the reach of their emergency broadcasts. really it's a competative move enabled by none other than Bush appointee FCC director Deborah Taylor-Tate, Murfreesboro, TN native. The ladies can be good ol' boys too.

Of course there was another unrelated but far more defiant STA only a few weeks ago. In June of 2006 the FCC raided an illegal station on 100.3 in Tonopha Nevada. Rod Moses, owner of Radio Goldfield Broadcast Inc received a very Special STA from the FCC. It allowed him not only to avoid fines, and jail and seizure of his hardware but also to get back on the air. This time it was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pressured the FCC.
Where is this all going? softer rules, no rules at all? Rules only for those without friends in high places? Who knows, but it aint gonna be pretty.