FCC Adopts Sweeping Changes to FM Translator Interference Rules

The FCC has made sweeping changes to the FM translator interference rules in an effort to streamline and expedite the interference complaint and resolution process.

Under the FCC’s new rules, complaints of translator interference will only be actionable if the alleged interference occurs within the 45 dBu contour of the complaining station. The 45 dBu contour limit applies to both actual and predicted interference. The FCC will only waive the 45 dBu contour limit under very limited circumstances.

There are new requirements for filing interference claims. Claims must now include a minimum number of listener complaints which varies depending on the size of the population served by the complaining station. Interference claims must include a map plotting the specific locations of the alleged interference in relation to the 45 dBu contour of the complaining station, a statement that the complaining station is operating within its licensed parameters, and a statement that the complaining station has used commercially reasonable efforts to inform the translator licensee of the interference and attempted private resolution. Complaints must also include information about the desired-to-undesired signal strength at each listener location.

The minimum number of listener complaints is determined using a sliding scale. The number ranges from 6 to 25, depending on the size of the population within the primary station’s protected contour. The chart below explains the minimum number of complaints needed per population:

Population within Protected Contour

Minimum Listener Complaints Required for Interference Claim















2,000,000 or more


LPFM stations with fewer than 5,000


Listener complaints must now be signed and dated by the listener and must contain the listener’s full name, address, and phone number; a clear, concise and accurate description of the location where the interference occurred; a statement that the listener listens to the station over-the-air at least twice a month; and a statement that the listener has no legal, employment, financial, or family affiliation or relationship with the station.

There are also new interference remediation procedures. FM translators may now remedy interference by changing channels to any available non-reserved FM frequency. Such channel changes will now be considered “minor changes” for purposes of FCC filings. Translator licensees will no longer be required to work directly with complaining listeners who prove to be uncooperative. Instead, licensees must work with complaining stations to resolve interference issues and must resolve claims within 90 days, after which the FCC may order translators to reduce power or cease operations.

If you have any questions regarding the new translator interference rules, please contact any attorney in our office.

Categories: Media