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Shifting focus from AM, Pai explores new Class C4 FM

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who launched the AM revitalization effort now underway in his address to the 2012 NAB Radio Show, focused his attention at this year’s show on helping Class A FM stations expand their service – possibly with the creation of a Class C4 FM allocation.

The FCC first sought comment on a petition for rulemaking on the topic more than two years ago, and Pai said the feedback received to date has been “generally positive” – particularly from FM stations in rural areas and small towns.

He noted that the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC), has endorsed the proposal based on the broader audience that could be reached in a larger coverage area and the increased access to financial capital that could help small and minority-owned stations strengthen their footing in the industry.

“I believe the idea of Class C4 FM stations is worth considering,” he told a packed room of Radio broadcasters at the Nashville confab, and called for a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to “ask the right questions, explore the advantages and disadvantages of the proposal, and receive the views of all stakeholders.”

Attorney David Oxenford, a TAB Associate Member and frequent speaker at TAB events, notes that FM stations currently enjoying listenership beyond their predicted coverage area would likely be affected by new C4 stations, though the existing congestion of the FM band is the biggest challenge to overcome.

“Upgrades by Class A stations to Class C4 stations could cause interference to the existing translators and LPFMs, perhaps requiring these secondary stations to have to change frequency if other frequencies are available in their market,” Oxenford cautions.

Text of Pai’s Remarks

Oxenford’s Blog Post

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

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