Negotiating Broadcast Tower Leases








Broadcast Towers

Broadcast towers provide mounting space for broadcasters including FM radio, AM radio, and Television (TV) antennas. Broadcast antennas are often massive, weighing anywhere from 1,000 pounds to 15 tons per antenna depending upon the type of broadcast service they provide and the coverage they are purposed to deploy. Most broadcast towers are guyed towers with three or more guy wires attached to grounded anchors. Broadcast towers can take up a great deal of ground space  up to 300 acres  which is why they are typically found in rural areas or on mountaintops where natural elevation provides the best location for transmitting a signal across a wider viewing or listening market.

TV Broadcast Towers – these towers are typically the tallest of all towers. TV broadcasters use the towers to provide over the air (OTA) signal as part of their FCC mandate to provide free service to those with in-home antennas. TV towers can cover areas that exceed 50 miles in radius from the tower location. These towers are normally guyed towers due to the heavy loading and height that is required to broadcast over this distance.

FM Radio Towers – FM radio antennas are sometimes “collocated” on larger TV broadcast towers, although in a number of cases they can also share radio towers.

Low Power FM (LPFM) Towers –> In 2000, the FCC created the low power FM radio service and started making spectrum available to noncommercial educational entities and public safety information entities for low power FM (less than 100 watts) transmission. Most LPFM leases that we see are from religious stations that are expanding the reach of their services over LPFM.

AM Radio Towers – Unlike FM or TV towers, AM radio towers operate in lower frequencies and the tower itself acts as the the transmitter. AM radio towers may be constructed in a phased AM array where multiple towers are placed near each other and connected. The entire “array” acts as the transmitter.

Negotiating Broadcast Tower Leases

Negotiating broadcast tower leases is a bit more challenging than negotiating cell tower leases, and because they aren’t as common, comparable lease rates data isn’t as easy to come by. In addition, broadcast tower lease valuation can be more complex than normal cell tower valuation because while the broadcaster may have more latitude in the geographic area in which they can place the tower initially, there are also strict regulations where broadcasters are allowed to place large towers like those needed to fully propagate signal.

These include:

  • 1. FAA regulations regarding air safety which limit where tall towers may be erected
  • 2. Local zoning regulations which may further limit where tall towers may be erected
  • 3. FCC regulations regarding licensing and spacing between stations that may limit the broadcaster’s authorized power or mounting height which then impacts the market viability of the station

It is precisely because of these complexities that property owners turn to Steel in the Air. The experts at Steel in the Air can assist with evaluating broadcast tower lease proposals to determine a best-case scenario that protects landowners’ interests. It is what we do best. We have partnered with noted TV and FM engineers to evaluate many proposed leases for broadcast towers or the expiration of an existing broadcast tower lease.

If a television or radio station has contacted you about placing a broadcast tower on your property or an antenna on your mountaintop or extending their exisitng lease, please contact us immediately.