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FM Radio Flourishing: The New Broadcast Station Totals


The FCC (1/3) released its Broadcast Station Totals for the fourth quarter of 2018. The biggest headline from the new totals: MHz matters.

There was a noticeable rise in the number of commercially licensed FM radio stations. UHF stations climbed in number thanks, in part, to the post-spectrum auction repack process.

At the same time, the number of FM translators and boosters is closing in on 8,000.

On the TV side, the number of commercially licensed UHF facilities rebounded to 1006, up from 990 at the end of Q3 but down from 1015 at the end of Q2 2018.

Meanwhile, the number of commercial VHF stations climbed to 367. This compares to 362 at the end of Q2, 350 at the end of the first quarter of 2017, and 357 at the end of the second quarter of 2017.

Meanwhile, the number of UHF noncomm stations fell to 270; it was at 271 at the end of Q2 2018. There are three more VHF noncomms, up from 115 at the close of Q3 2018.

Looking at Class A facilities, UHF stations slipped to 359 from 361; Class A VHF stations stay at 28 in number.

On the radio side, there is much more that is noteworthy. There are now 6754 commercially licensed FMs in the U.S. That compares to a year-end 2016 total of 6746 and reinforces the continued strength of radio’s most commonly accessed band in an age when many assume digital audio is the most common source of programming and content.

Meanwhile, there are five additional FM noncomms in the U.S. compared to the end of Q3 ’18, with the total now at 4,135. That’s up from 4,101 at the end of 2016.

The continued surge in FM translators and boosters is the other key takeaway. As of the end of 2018 some 7,952 FM translators and boosters were licensed nationwide. That’s up from 7721 in Q2; 7,253 FM translators and boosters at the end of Q4 2016; and 6,962 translators and boosters at the end of Q3 2016.

The number of AMs declined again, moving to 4,619 from 4,626 and from 4,633 at the end of the first half of 2018. This compares to 4646 on June 30, 2017. The AM station count has declined in all quarters since the end of 2016. — RBR

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