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FCC officially undertakes AM revitalization effort

 - Sen. Cruz holds new FCC Chairman for talk on political disclosures

The FCC last week launched a much sought-after effort to revitalize the AM band little more than a year after Commissioner Ajit Pai first championed the cause at the 2012 NAB Radio Show in Dallas.

Pai’s announcement took the industry by surprise and TAB responded quickly, holding meetings with the Commissioner and key FCC staff to outline potential options and surveying Texas broadcasters for their interest in the possibility of securing FM translators to provide fill-in or nighttime service for their AM stations.

TAB Board member Ben Downs of Bryan Broadcasting prepared an in-depth analysis of various initial proposals and assessed aggregate survey data collected by TAB.

“The information we gathered from Texas’ AM broadcasters was immensely helpful to our efforts, but Commissioner Pai’s openness to our ideas and personal leadership on the issue made this possible,” said TAB President Oscar Rodriguez.

“As Commissioner Pai said, now the real work begins!”

The multi-faceted notice of proposed rulemaking in part concludes that AM licensees and permittees should be allowed to apply for new FM translators for the sole purpose of enhancing existing AM service. Only AM broadcasters could participate in the one-time filing window for one new FM translator to be used to re-broadcast the broadcaster’s AM signal to provide fill-in or nighttime service, with certain conditions.

TAB’s FCC counsel has developed a complete overview of the proposal.

Sen. Cruz talks with Wheeler

Sen. Ted Cruz last week dropped his hold on President Obama’s nomination of Tom Wheeler to head the FCC after Wheeler finally talked with Cruz about the FCC’s online political disclosure requirement imposed on TV broadcasters last year.

The requirement was adopted after lawmakers failed to advance legislation intended to undo the effects of the U.S. Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” ruling that allowed the secret expenditure of money on third-party political advertising.

A TAB delegation of broadcasters in March expressed concern to Cruz that the required disclosure of proprietary rate information puts broadcasters at a competitive disadvantage and that an industry-backed alternative would have provided more immediate and useful information.

Cruz reportedly was satisfied that Wheeler is not focused on circumventing the court ruling at broadcasters’ expense.

“We’re very pleased and thankful that Sen. Cruz addressed our concern directly with the new Chairman,” Rodriguez said.

Questions?  Contact TAB's Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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