Am To Fm Conversions In Solo Markets


#21

Has there been any talk of 4KZ Innisfail converting to FM? I’m assuming they would qualify.


#22

4KZ does qualify for an AM-FM conversion, but as far as I can see, they haven’t submitted an application for it. This leads me to think that they would rather stay on the AM band, which would come in handy in times of cyclone emergency, hence why some local ABC stations in FNQ remain on AM, even in places where there’s a full-power FM transmission available, such as Cairns.


As for 6MM Mandurah converting to 91.7 MHz, it would provide Perth an additional commercial FM station that can be received into much of the metropolitan area, particularly the southern suburbs. It could even potentially affect Mix 94.5’s dominance in the Perth radio ratings in the coming years, as 6MM’s music format is similar to that of Mix. You can see 6MM’s music playlist here: https://www.6mm.com.au/on-air/played/

While Mandurah will have two commercial FM stations, Bunbury would be stuck with having only one commercial FM station, with the other two commercial stations remaining on the AM band, due to it not being a solus market.


#23

That situation in Bunbury is a bit odd? The only other market I can think of with multiple commercial AM stations and one FM is Toowoomba


#24

Indeed.

6TZ AM 963 is the original Bunbury licence.

Hot FM issued s.39 licence

AM 621 auctioned. Gamble/other Griffith families + Macquarie Bank as shareholders: low cost ‘East Listening 621’ launched.

Gamble family et al divest, sold to WAN (now Seven West Media), local programming added as Spirit 621.

The licence was auctioned on the AM band due to the spectrum squeeze of VHF 3 and 5 in use in Bunbury for the high power main TX for the licence area.

This was the same logic that almost saw Bridgetown’s s.39 issued on AM. DMG successfully lobbied for FM. Plus the delay in allocating an s.39 for Mandurah, again, its owners had to lobby the regulator forcefully and present their own engineering analysis for FM 97.3 to be allocated to them.


#25

Yes, 6NA Narrogin’s s.39 was to be issued on AM as well (1251 AM), next to the 6BY Bridgetown s.39 on 1269 AM. As you said, DMG was able to successfully argue for an FM licence, with both licenses on 100.5 FM.

Again, FM spectrum was limited in these areas due to GWN on VHF 3 and the ABC on VHF 5, both of which took up considerable chunks of space within the FM band.


#26

Ah thanks. Very unusual to auction an AM licence so thanks for the explanation. Cheers


#27

Today is the big day in Port Hedland, as Spirit converts to FM.


#28

I find it interesting that they are so easily moving 3RPH from FM to AM to allow space for 3YB to convert to FM because it’s a talk based format. Yet community talk stations like 4EB continue to take up valuable high powered FM space in congested Brisbane - supposedly preventing further commercial FM expansion in SEQ.


#29

Both broadcasters initiated the swap after coming to terms with each other. RPH benefit from the extra fortuitous coverage provided by AM (which 3YB don’t really need given the proximity of their other stations in Hamilton and Colac) and 3YB benefit from getting a return on their AM transmission setup (either through sale or lease to RPH). The 2 stations are also no risk to each other given RPH’s very niche, but necessary, service.

The ACMA are happy to facilitate the swap as it saves them the effort of finding a new frequency and no commercial broadcaster is disadvantaged.

The situation in SEQ is that the community broadcasters aren’t as keen to give up their frequencies, and putting another station on FM (particularly a conversion of an existing station) will disadvantage other commercial broadcasters.


#30

Yeah I get that a new commercial competitor will disadvantage the incumbents but that’s what has happened for the last 30-40 years as new FM licences or conversions are auctioned. That’s what ACMA is there for, to add new stations as appropriate to a region’s population to ensure competition, not to protect incumbents. Otherwise we would never have had Nova, B105 or even WS FM. It’s been a long time since new FM licences or conversions have been offered - more than a decade.


#31

The last time a full-powered commercial AM station converted to FM was 7LA in Launceston back in 2008, in which it became LAFM. TOTE Sport Radio (now Radio TAB), which operated as a commercial licence in Launceston, also converted to FM.

In September 2010, after TOTE bought a narrowcasting licence on the 1008kHz frequency, Grant Broadcasters bought the commercial FM licence from TOTE, prompting the launch of a proper 2nd commercial station for Launceston, Chilli 90.1, which went to air on Australia Day in 2011.


#32

The ACMA’s charter is more about ensuring diversity than competition as such, which explains why we seem to have a lot of community radio stations.


#33

With Channel 3 and 5 in Bunbury now longer used for TV since Analogue was Turned Off, What’s gonna Happen with that Excess Space Now???


#34

91,7, which is almost exactly where the VHF 3 audio carrier was, has been earmarked for the AM to FM conversion of 6MM Mandurah.

Though I note that Albany is the only other regional southern WA market on the AM to FM conversion schedule. I would have thought most Triple M regional stations be eligible here.

And I think we could see more aspirant regional southern WA community broadcasters pushing for FM licences. The ACMA did allocate AM frequencies for this purpose (eg. 855 in Bunbury, 1332 in Margaret River - Busselton and 1350 in Mandurah), but not many were taken up presumably because of the cost involved with AM transmitters. 1089 in Collie is one of the few that did make it to air.


#35

The Collie community station has since converted to FM about a couple of years ago, on 101.3.

There are currently a number of aspirant community stations broadcasting in SW WA, including 103.7 in Bunbury & 102.1 in Donnybrook. 96.5 in Harvey now has a full-time licence.


#36

All except Bunbury should be. They probably want to keep the extended coverage that AM gives them in most areas.


#37

Triple M in Wagga, Griffith & Mt Gambier are also not on the schedule to convert to FM, even though they’re eligible for it, for pretty much the same reasons as for its WA stations. And yet, most of the Super Radio Network’s AM stations, which are predominantly talk stations, are on the schedule to convert to FM! :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


#38

But then 2BH opted to stay on AM after all that.

Kind of makes me wonder why they were on the schedule in the first place.


#39

I’ve always thought that too mate. Do you know the reason behind that?


#40

A number of conversions have are to be made in the Remote Western Australian license area

Location Service Former frequency New frequency
Exmouth Red FM 747 kHz AM 102.9 MHz FM
Paraburdoo Spirit Radio 765 kHz AM 94.1 MHz FM
Tom Price Red FM 747 kHz AM 96.1 MHz FM

Spirit 1260 Karratha is also scheduled to convert to 102.5 FM.


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