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Radio News: FCC looking at 'Franken-FMs'

May 22, 2022 11:33 pm

In the analog era of broadcasting, television stations transmitting on Channel 6 could also be heard on 87.7-FM. WRGB-TV in Albany, for instance, used to be heard on both Channel 6 television, and 87.7-FM, on radio receivers that could be tuned below 88. But since the full-power television stations switched to digital broadcasts, now all that is heard on FM there is static. In July 2021, all of the remaining analog low-power television stations, except 13, were required to convert to digital. That means there is just static on the dial, or pirate radio stations, on 87.7-FM around the country, except for 13 stations. That could change. The Broadcast Law Blog reports that the Federal Communications Commission has issued a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for its June 8 open meeting on a proposal to authorize low-power TV stations operating Channel 6 to continue to provide an analog audio stream on FM radios at 87.7. The broadcast industry calls these stations "Franken-FMs," since they are both television and radio stations. More importantly, the FCC proposal also asks for comments about whether, with the elimination of most Channel 6 television stations broadcasting audio on 87.7-FM, the frequencies 82-88 MHz could be used for more radio stations in geographic areas where it is not currently used for TV services. So, in Albany, where you could once hear the audio from the Channel 6 TV station, a new FM radio station could possibly be broadcasting in a few years.