Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Canadian/Mexican AM Station Search
Recently I have been browsing the web looking for official government sources of current Canadian and Mexican AM stations on the air. Accurate information on who is actually broadcasting is hard to come by in one comprehensive database.
CAN THE FCC HELP?
Here in the United States, the FCC's official government database covers not only US stations but Canadian and Mexican stations as well. Web opinion portrays it as notoriously flawed. Part of the problem, I believe, is that the output of the AM Query list is drawn and built from a number of separate databases, many of which have multiple and redundant records for the same station. "Application", "In-Planning", various types of "Construction Permit" records and "Licensed" records, and a smattering of "Deleted" records exist. The FCC saves everything. Slogging through them and deciding which is current and which is not is nearly impossible, even for the FCC. It is a case of too much information. Spending many months weeding out the chaff, I have found the US section to be surprisingly accurate.
Not so for Canadian and Mexican records. They are added to the database, missing information, then forgotten. In past years, broadcasting in Canada has been moving to FM, and year by year, fewer and fewer AM stations remain. This is somewhat true for Mexico as well, and Mexico's AM to FM transition process may speed up even faster with its announcement that it plans on migrating all AM stations to FM in the near future. Deleted Canadian and Mexican stations are almost never pulled from the database. In my experience with the FCC database, some Canadian stations have been off the air for nearly twenty years and are still listed. Hence, this is what drives my search for a more up-to-date governmental database for these countries.
Similar to the FCC's AM Radio Database Query page, I discovered recently Industry Canada's Frequency Range Search page which will output MW radio station data to either a web page or downloadable text file. This information appears to be drawn from a comprehensive database of all spectrum telecommunications across Canada. For our MW interests, one must specify the search criteria, i.e., frequency range (530 KHz - 1700 KHz), and pertinent filtering fields. A multitude of information is available, such as latitude and longitude of station, transmitter power (though only available in dBW), a wealth of antenna information, site elevation, call sign and licensee names, and much more.
How accurate the Canadian government query is remains to be seen. I don't see record redundancies yet. I am hoping that they have deleted inactive station records. So far, that generally appears to be the case, though I have a report of one. A small annoyance is that tourist information stations and low power emergency stations are also included in the output. There doesn't appear to be a filter option to remove them. I'll be experimenting with this data in a program I'm writing that already uses the FCC's AM radio station data to provide comprehensive information for MW DXers like me, such as sunrise/sunset times for distant stations, distance and bearing, competing co-channel stations, relative signal strengths, and a multitude of other interesting info. Since this Canadian database appears to be more accurate than the FCC's, I'll merge it in, eliminating the inaccurate records from the American one, and hopefully provide some needed accuracy in actual stations on the air.
Mexico is another story. I have not been able to find an actual government database file online that documents their AM radio station network. Private sites do exist that attempt to provide lists of Mexican AM stations, but their information is not in a file format which can be read by a third party program. This is what is needed. If anyone has any information on a government site or other site which has compiled the Mexican AM station network into an accurate data file format, I would appreciate knowing its location. The only government list I found available, in .PDF form, is the Infraestructura de Estaciones de Radio AM list. Though the URL address is dated 2008, the actual .PDF retrieved is dated 31-Dic-2009, or December 31, 2009, so hopefully the information is somewhat current. Check the Cofe_radio_y_television page out for additional information.