Thursday, February 12, 2015


It seems like I’ve been reporting a lot recently about analog FM translators.  In addition to helping FM stations improve or extend their coverage areas, translators are now “must haves” for AM and HD stations.  There aren’t many open translator frequencies in big markets. So the add for a Phoenix translator – and WEATHLY PHOENIX caught my eye.  
Here is the ad:
Here is the situation:
The translator for sale is K214DN FM 90.7, licensed to Surprise, Arizona. The asking price: $150,000 (cash only please).  Here is the K214DN coverage map: 

According to FCC files, K214DN repeats KTLW-FM, located in Lancaster, California. NCE noncoms can feed translators by satellite – there are lots of translator’s across the US slavishly repeating The Good News from somewhere far away.
KTLW is that kind of operator. Their Worship On the Way Radio Network is one FM station feeding a bunch of translators. According to the network’s website, KTLW feeds translators that cover Burbank, Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley areas of Los Angeles, plus Selma, CA, Decatur, IL, Guyman, OK and Ventura, CA.  The Ventura translator is also for sale – the price is $55,000 (cash only please). They apparently need the cash. But it is hard to tell because they do business as a church -- they don’t report their revenue to the IRS. 


When I saw that phrase in the ad for the Surprise, AZ translator I almost got sick to my stomach.  It’s like throwing raw meat on the floor. 

It brings me to the point of the story:


Until the late 1980s, the FCC required each broadcaster to operate a station for a minimum of three years.  Only after that time, could the license be sold (except in cases of severe hardship).  There were two reasons for this FCC rule: Consistency in serving the public interest and cut down trafficking in licenses.  Trafficking licenses means getting a construction permit for a station, getting it on the air as cheaply as possible, then SELL IT for big profit.

The Three Year Rule went away around the same time as the Fairness Doctrine but it didn’t get as much attention.  Maybe it would be worthwhile to consider reinstating a minimum ownership period for stations.  And require local operations.

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