Broadcast Stations Increase in Number

On Wednesday the FCC released its tally of broadcast stations as of March 31, 2010 and June 30, 2010.

When the results with totals from June 30, 2008 and June 30, 2009 are compared some interesting trends are apparent.

One thing that stands out is that the total number of all broadcast stations is increasing--from 29,690 in 2008 to 30,855 in the latest total. This is an increase of almost four percent.

During that period, full power TV stations lost channels 52 through 69, but the total number of stations increased from 1,758 to 1,784. The only major category where the station count went down was with Class A TV operations. These dropped in number from 550 to 523. (Class A stations are required to comply with many of the same requirements as full power stations and must broadcast a minimum amount of locally produced programming. New Class A licenses are not being issued, so this drop isn't surprising.)

The FCC totals breaks out stations into educational and commercial classifications and also into VHF and UHF categories. The number of full power VHF stations dropped by almost 33 percent, from 710 in 2008 to 479 in 2010. This illustrates the challenges that stations, viewers and the FCC will face if broadcasters are forced to move back to VHF channels as a result of losing UHF spectrum to wireless broadband.

The FCC Media Bureau has a Web page with links to broadcast station totals dating back to Sept. 2000.

Doug Lung

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.