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FCC sets dates for AM revitalization proceeding

The FCC has set deadlines for filing public comments on the agency’s proposals for revitalizing the AM band, with comments due Jan. 21 and reply comments due Feb. 18.

“We’re pleased to see the Commission moving forward with the AM revitalization effort and look forward to continuing our work with Commissioner Pai and others to improve this important broadcast service for local communities,” said TAB President Oscar Rodriguez.

While the goal of providing more FM translators for AM stations grabbed headlines when the FCC push was announced at the NAB Radio Show in September, the complex set of proposals covers a range of issues that must be resolved in order for the effort to succeed, among them:

  • Signal coverage of a station’s city of license – The notice of proposed rulemaking suggests changing – for existing stations only – the daytime coverage rule so that only 50 percent of the city of license needs to be covered with a 5 mv/m signal, and eliminating altogether the nighttime coverage obligation.
  • Ratchet rule – The commission proposes eliminating this rule which requires AM broadcasters seeking to modify their facilities to prove they will be “ratcheting” down skywave interference to other stations.
  • Modulation dependent carrier level – These systems reduce an AM station’s power in synchronization with the modulation level of the program, and the FCC proposes allowing stations to use this technology without waiver which could reduce AM stations’ electrical bills.
  • Antenna efficiency standards – The FCC is considering changing its rules which some industry players have criticized for making it difficult for stations to use short AM antennas that can be mounted on buildings and in small spaces.

David Oxenford of Wilkinson Barker and Knauer, a TAB Associate Member law firm, provides more details on this proceeding, including several other ideas the FCC may investigate based on comments from interested parties.

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

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