At long last, the Commission’s Report and Order amending its FM translator rules to permit carriage of AM stations has been published in the Federal Register. That means that those rules now have an effective date, and that effective date is (the envelope, please – drum roll – hushed silence) – October 1, 2009. As we reported last June (when the R&O was initially released), as of that effective date all outstanding special temporary authorizations (STAs) permitting AM-on-FM-translator operation will be automatically cancelled (and any still-pending requests for such STAs will be dismissed). 

Anyone who is currently engaged in cross-service translator operations will have to file a notification, pursuant to Section 74.1251(c) of the Commission’s rules, formally specifying their AM primary stations. (Yes, we know that Section 74.1251(c) technically refers to changes in the “primary FM station being retransmitted” and makes no reference to any primary AM station. But the R&O specifically referenced Section 74.1251(c) when it specifically – that would be in Paragraph 19 – instructed folks to file notifications about their “AM primary stations, so the fact that 74.1251 doesn’t mention AM’s is probably not a matter of consequence.) While the R&O does not specify a deadline for those notifications, logically they would appear to be due no later than the new effective date, i.e., October 1.

If you read the fine print of the Federal Register item, you will note that the October 1 effective date technically does not apply to one of the rule changes (relating to Section 74.1284) effected by the R&O. That’s because that particular section involves an “information collection” requirement that must first be approved by OMB pursuant to our old friend, the Paperwork Reduction Act. No problem – OMB concluded its review on August 31, an OMB control number has been assigned to the FCC’s information collection requirement, and any potential snag has thus been avoided. (Presumably the FCC was not aware of OMB’s action when the FCC sent the item over to be published in the Federal Register several days ago.  Look for a follow-up notice to be issued shortly to clear up any possible confusion on this front.)