Distribution of FM stations along Mexican border

Updated August 3, 2013:

COFETEL, the Mexican communications administration is in the process of migrating AM broadcasters to FM.

This may impact the availability of LPFM in the border areas as LPFM stations will be required to protect these new stations.  The following is a list of the new FM stations that have or will change from AM.  We do not have any specific information on whether these stations are already on the air.

Our review of the COFETEL against the FCC data is that the new channels are already in the FCC database as vacant allotments or active stations.  Many of the new stations are protected on the US side at classes much higher than their actual class. 

Cities with congested dials (Tijuana, Nogales, Cd. Juarez, etc.) did not get any new FM stations. 

For a list of all FM stations in Mexico, look at the following document:

Stations with the message "Cambio de frecuencia de la estación" are the ones that are the new FM allotments being migrated from AM.

To see what channels the FCC is protecting and their classes, click on the following links for the Mexican state your desired locations are, visit the FCC's FM Query and select the state.

The following is an evaulation of the loading of channels at various points right along the US/Mexico border to show in these areas how many channels are used by each community.  Channels shown place a service contour over the border community on the USA side.  The numbers are a sample taken from the location and those stations may hae also been counted in other communities.  "Vacant" in the Mexico FM column indicates the number of reserved allotments within the FCC's database.  These vacant allotments are in place to assure a fair distribution of channels along the border and there's a possibility that the allotments would be mutually exclusive of each other.  We did not include include vacant allotments that are obviously mutually exclusive with operating stations.  The larger community is shown in bold.  Mexican AM stations that are shown are those that have a real call sign (as opposed to the "XENVA2" (NVA = nueva = new) call sign that many AM records in the FCC database has. These are the AM stations within 50 km of the US point checked.

US Community US FM Stations Mexico FM Stations Mexican AM stations Mexico Community
San Ysidro (San Diego Metro) 17 14 +3 vacant 15 Tijuana, BN
Tecate, CA 7 12 + 4 vacant 13 Tecate, BN
Calexico, CA 6 11 + 3 vacant 14 Mexicali, BN
San Luis, AZ (Yuma) 7 4 + 2 vacant 5 San Luis Rio Colorado, SO
Lukeville, AZ 1 4 + 1 vacant 0 Sonoita, SO
Nogales, AZ 3 7 6 Nogales, SO
Naco, AZ 5 3 4 Naco, SO
Douglas, AZ 6 2 5 Agua Prieta, SO
Columbus, NM 0 0 + 4 vacant 0 Las Palomas, CH
El Paso, TX 13 4 + 2 vacant 16 Ciudad Juarez, CH
Presidio, TX 0 + 1 vacant 2 + 11 vacant 3 Ojinaga, CH
Del Rio, TX 6 4 + 11 vacant 6 Cuidad Acuna, CI
Eagle Pass, TX 5 8 + 10 vacant 7 Piedras Negras, CI
Laredo, TX 7` 9 7 Nuevo Laredo, TA
Rio Grande City, TX 4 5 + 8 vacant 4 Ciudad Camargo, TA
McAllen, TX 13 7 + 5 vacant 11 Reynosa, TA
Brownsville, TX 12 5 + 17 vacant 9 Matamoros, TA

Data: FCC CDBS close of business 5/25/2012 - retrieved from RECPRO.

From this chart, we can see that in the major cities such as San Diego/Tijuana, El Paso/Cd. Juarez, McAllen/Reynosa, there are more AM stations than vacant reserved allotments.  We can't speculate how exactly the SCT will handle this or if how the FCC will react if Mexico asks for more allotments.  Also keep in mind, not all AM stations may want to migrate to FM but I think many of the lower powered (less than 1kW) stations may consider moving to FM. 

Just know that LPFM stations are not only secondary to new full power stations in the USA, but also secondary to full power stations in Mexico. 

While nothing is in stone about the decisions by the Mexican stations (as the border states will be the last ones to convert to FM), we can only give advanced warning that LPFM stations may expect the potential for displacement in the next few years if Mexico needs to negotiate any new FM allotments in the border region.  We will continue to monitor the progress in Mexico.