The HDx fed FM translator “problem”

Part of the reason for the flurry of HDRadio posts is the issue of FM translators (FX) being “fed” by HD 2/3/4 channels, to essentially carve out a brand new FM radio station that doesn’t even count against the BigRadio™ limit on number of stations in a market. While the FX is limited to 250 watts, put it on the tallest building in town, and your $20k translator becomes worth millions of dollars. Is the HDx channel even “on the air?” Who has the time to check? All that matters is the technicalities were met. The incentives to do this are just too strong, HDx fed translators are not going away, and they have the bonus of blocking new LPFM stations from being licensed. Goliath seems totally scared of David.

Case in point – from this morning’s newsbag
“93.7 K229CC Winterset will complete its move to downtown Des Moines as Country “93.7 The Outlaw” rebroadcasting 102.5 KSTZ-HD2. Positioned as “Legends & Young Guns” the new format will bring competition to Cumulus’ combo of “97.3 Nash-FM” KHKI and “92.5 Nash Icon” KJJY.”

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This means it is highly probable that K229CC is going to sprout a web site and stream – it is a radio “station” that can be heard on existing radios. Nobody but lawyers care that it is really KSTZ/HD2. You’ll hear the two call signs at the required top of the ID, but it’s a pretty good bet high school students in Iowa won’t be asking each other if they lstened to K229CC last night. Making things even worse is FX call signs are tied to the frequency. On FM, changing transmitter frequencies is just an option in software. If the station has to (or wants to) change frequencies or towers, the process at the FCC doesn’t require nearly the paperwork – but if people did get used to K229FC, tomorrow it might be K232GJ.

Figuring out how to “not break” this when the FX call sign changes is a problem. There is no reason one HD channel couldn’t feed multiple translators in a metro area. You might hear the same “station” on 5 different frequencies by the time this runs its course. The “brand” will be “93.7 The Outlaw”, with no reference to the call sign

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2 Responses to The HDx fed FM translator “problem”

  1. Art Stone says:

    In this example KSTX/HD2 is not even in the database – the FCC does not track HD channels. The only paperwork they see is a notice from the station they turned on the IBOC subcarrier. That’s just proforma paperwork.

    Since K229CC is not using HD itself, how does Ibiquity get paid and for what?

  2. Art Stone says:

    Making things even uglier, the HD radio transmitter can be in an entirely different location than the analog transmitter

    I don’t understand this, as I thought HD was encoded inside the Analog signal or vice versa…

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