FM station broadcasts dead air and interference - can anything be done?
January 29, 2017 5:31 PM   Subscribe

I'm currently living in an American city on one of the Great Lakes, and there is, or at least, used to be a low-power FM religious radio station notorious for interfering with a popular rock station from across the lake in Canada. I've heard that the FCC couldn't do much about interference complaints since it doesn't have jurisdiction over Canadian radio stations. Now, for at least a month, the religious station has been broadcasting nothing but silence - "dead air". Can anything be done about this seemingly abandoned transmitter so that we can at least listen to the Canadian rock station?
posted by Seeking Direction to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
It is illegal to broadcast dead air. Call the FCC.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 5:45 PM on January 29, 2017 [6 favorites]

1-888-225-5322 is the FCC - whoops!
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 5:46 PM on January 29, 2017

I'm not so sure that dead air is illegal. In 2008, the FCC reviewed the case of a Miami station that transmitted dead air at 100,000W for 3 weeks during an apparently contentious sale from a private religious operator to American Public Media. The FCC ruled that a dead-air station was exempt from the station ID requirements.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:34 PM on January 29, 2017

Just to fill out what Sunburnt said, US radio stations are generally required to air a "station ID" once per hour, typically at the top of the hour. Anybody who's ever worked in radio knows this ONE RULE that you must adhere to: at the top of the hour (give or take), say "WXYZ City". In fact, it was THE top item in my four-item keep-it-legal list when I was training new DJs.

Sunburnt is pointing out a case where a station didn't even have to do that.

But I would start down that path. Complain to the FCC.

Quoting from :
A legal identification must be run once per hour of broadcasting.

The traditional rule, is that the ID must be run as close to the top of the hour as possible in a natural break in the programming. The FCC has, in recent years, become much more liberal enforcing strict adherence to this requirement.

The legal ID must include, in this order: (1) the call letters of the radio station, and (2) the city of license. Example: “You’re listening to Hot 103.5, KLMN, Pleasantville… Today’s hottest hits!” is a valid legal ID. In contrast, “This is KLMN, Hot 103.5 FM, Pleasantville…Today’s hottest hits!” is not a valid legal ID because the words “Hot 103.5” are between the call letters and the city of license. This is a small distinction, but an important one.
posted by intermod at 7:25 PM on January 29, 2017 [2 favorites]

  Complain to the FCC

Will do you a lot of good. The station's in Canada. We don't have those callsign rules. There might be some communication between the CRTC and the FCC, but it's going to be slow and very limited.

What's the frequency? I'm Canadian and a bit of a radio nerd, and if it's clearly broadcasting silence it should be reported. I'm happy to do that. I suspect it might be that megachurch radio/TV operation nearly Burlington that I hear is having all sorts of problems. Its OTA signal used to be so strong I could pick it up in our basement with no aerial.
posted by scruss at 7:36 PM on January 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

Is the religious station in Canada or the US?
posted by I-baLL at 7:46 PM on January 29, 2017

Just to clarify - I am in the US (Erie, PA). The "dead air" station is WXNM-LP here in Erie; the rock station that I'd like to pick up (and would be audible here if not for the other station) is CFPL-FM from London, ON. Both are at 95.9 FM.
posted by Seeking Direction at 7:46 PM on January 29, 2017

Thanks for the suggestions so far - I'll try to give the FCC a call. When I said the FCC couldn't do much about the interference, I meant that the FCC couldn't ensure CFPL's signal in the US because only WXNM-LP, and not CFPL, is under FCC authority. I'm hoping that now that WXNM-LP is nothing more than dead air, I have a reason to complain about it and have a chance of getting CFPL back!
posted by Seeking Direction at 7:05 AM on January 30, 2017

Looks like mayb you can listen to CFPL-FM online. Maybe that will do until you can sort this out?
posted by eatcake at 9:08 AM on January 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

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