The Federal Communications Commission has rejected an attempt by Arizona broadcaster Casa Pinon to power down its AM station for up to a year while leaving the sister FM translator on the air in order to see what impact it might have on listeners. The FCC said the proposal is “inconsistent” with the FCC’s rules governing FM translators. “More significantly, the request is completely at odds with the intended goals of the Commission's ongoing AM Revitalization proceeding,” Audio Division senior deputy chief Jim Bradshaw had said in the decision.
Casa Pinon had asked the Commission to allow it to power down KVSL, Show Low, AZ (1470) while continuing to keep its adult hits format on the Taylor, AZ-licensed translator K263CA at 100.5 FM. “With the future possibility that the FCC may allow AM stations to turn off their AM’s and use only their associated FM translator, this experiment will provide important information to other broadcasters in small markets whether it makes a difference to our listeners and sponsors or how much it would affect our station financials if we were to someday migrate to FM and no longer provide service on the AM band,” the company wrote in a proposal submitted to the FCC earlier this month.
But Bradshaw said the FCC has never considered changing its rules to allow owners to power down their AM and only use their FM translator. Instead, he said the focus has been on finding ways to help the AM stations survive. “Throughout the AM Revitalization proceeding, the Commission has consistently pursued proposed rule changes and other procedures with the goal of enabling AM stations to improve their service and to provide better service to the public,” Bradshaw said.
The Media Bureau also said that Casa Pinon failed to meet the agency’s thresholds for obtaining an experimental license, including ways a proposal would aid in the development of new technology, equipment, systems or services. Casa fails to explain why the information it intends to collect about listeners and sponsors cannot be obtained while it continues to operate KVSL,” Bradshaw wrote in the decision.
KVSL operates with 5,000-watts day and 87-watts night. The adult hits format currently brands itself as “Rewind 108” based on its simulcast on the Show Low, AZ-licensed translator K300CL at 107.9 FM, which Casa Pinon leases from Edgewater Broadcasting. But it’s in the processing of transitioning to the new translator at 100.5 FM.
When the decision was made in June 2009 by the Commission to allow AMs to simulcast on FM translators, the order noted how precarious the situation had become for AMs. The addition of FM translators has helped those stations carve out an existence in the ensuing years and, in some cases, AMs have found a new audience that may never had discovered their programming without the FM outlet. And some broadcasters have suggested the entire AM band be shifted to an expanded FM dial, something Casa Pinon’s proposal could help build a case for – if the Commission is willing to go along with the test.