Radio stations rely on satellites. In fact, one of the main satellite-based program delivery conduits that many radio stations use is about to change. The AMC-8 satellite is being replaced by AMC-18 which affects delivery of programming including: Cumulus Media and Westwood One, Orbital Media Networks, Premiere Radio Networks, Learfield, Skyview, as well as a large number of single programs that buy sat time.
Current dishes will need to be reoriented from the 139-degree west longitude arc of AMC-8 to the 105-degree west longitude arc of AMC-18.
John Joslin of satellite equipment dealer DAWNco tells Radio World, “The radio sat move is a big deal that will affect almost every radio station. Some stations will simply re-aim their dish at an off-peak time. Others with junky old dishes will need a new 3.7-meter satellite antenna to properly receive signals from the new satellite.”
Joslin explained that contemporary 3.7-meter (or larger) dishes are designed to handle satellites such as AMC-18, which are spaced closer together in orbit. Older and smaller dishes can have trouble singling out satellites that are only 2 degrees apart rather than the older 3-degree spacing. Some stations may also find the new satellite location is blocked to them for a variety of reasons.
Upwards of 90 percent of radio stations may be affected by this change. A release from Westwood One indicated that the transition will take place over several months, wherein programming will be available on both birds. The programmer said that June 30, 2017 will be the cutoff date.
The AMC-18 satellite itself is due to be replaced by SES-11 in the near future but the location should stay the same.