What all these people who keep talking about the limited spectrum and use that excuse to justify the manner in which the FCC has licensed and allocate stations, please explain to me how, in several countries and particularly in Europe, the FM band in major cities is literally crammed with stations, from end to end, broadcasting legally?
Here are some of the reasons:
1) The examples you cite are in countries much smaller geographically than the US, with generally higher population density.
Doesn't matter. The example I listed above were for stations broadcasting *in* specific cities and targeting those cities. The metro area populations of Rome or Athens are not larger than most U.S. metro areas.
2) Not all those stations are privately-owned. Many are government-owned.
Not all are, but most are. For each of the above samples (Rome, Athens, Istanbul) only one frequency corresponded to a government-owned station. The rest are private. And it shouldn't matter anyway. Frequencies are frequencies, and we're talking about the number of frequencies that can operate before planes, supposedly, start falling out of the sky.
3) Most of the stations in Europe run much lower power than US stations, and if I'm not mistaken also use lower frequency deviation, meaning they have smaller bandwidth requirements. In addition, a few countries such as Italy allocate stations using 50kHz spacing instead of the 200kHz used in North America.
I just mentioned that in those cities, the stations are higher-powered, easily running 10-20 kw in most instances (and I'm not talking about ERP). Compare that with 6-7 kw for the stations broadcasting from the Empire State Building, for instance.
4) Trying to listen to FM stations in some large cities in Europe is a nightmare. The stations may all be legal, but they topple over each other due to FM's capture effect, and therefore reception of some stations is unreliable even in what is supposed to be their primary coverage area.
Wrong again. I've traveled to all of those cities, and whether I was listening in the car, on a home receiver, on a walkman, on my phone, etc., I had absolutely no trouble listening to the radio in any of those cities. In fact, I was struck by how clearly they were all received and many with excellent processing, almost all in stereo and almost all with RDS.
5) The frequency allocation schemes in other countries weren't necessarily developed with private businesses in mind, stemming from a time when most broadcast stations in Europe were government-owned and the government could put the stations on whatever frequencies they wanted. In the US the allocation scheme was heavily tilted in favor of private businesses, specifically at keeping frequencies as clear as possible within a reasonable range of the communities the stations are licensed to. (IOW, if the government was going to allocate frequencies to private businesses, it's entirely reasonable for those businesses to be able to stay in business by having a frequency mostly clear of interference from other stations.)
True about the frequency allocations, but in those cities above, 90% of the stations operating right now are privately-owned. They seem to have no trouble doing business under current conditions or covering the entirety of those cities.