FCC Unveils Proposed AM Revitalization Plan
November 1, 2013 at 10:39 AM (PT)
The FCC's AM revitalization proposal has been released as a Notice of Proposed Rule Making, and the contents include an exclusive FM translator filing window for AM stations, changes in community of license coverage standards, the end of the AM "ratchet rule," wider implementation of modulation-dependent carrier level control standards, and changes in AM antenna efficiency standards.
The release of the proposal has been widely anticipated by AM licensees and permittees since Commissioner and Acting Chair MIGNON CLYBURN said it was coming at the NAB/RAB RADIO SHOW in ORLANDO (NET NEWS 9/18).
The translator window would allow AM stations one shot at one single FM translator within the AM signal daytime contour, to be permanently linked to the AM so that it may only be sold or transferred with the underlying AM license. The change in community of license coverage would reduce the requirement from 100% days/80% nights to 50% day and night coverage within the 60 dBu contour, as it is for noncommercial educational FM stations.
The proposal would also do away with the "ratchet rule," skywave protection requirements that result in stations moving their transmitter locations having to reduce power and, thereby, nighttime coverage, and would alter the minimum efficiency standard for AM antennas by reducing the existing minimum effective field strength values. The notice also opens the floor for new proposals to help AM stations.
Comments are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, with replies due 90 days after publication.
The NAB Take
In a prepared statement, NAB Pres./CEO GORDON SMITH said: "NAB salutes the leadership of Acting Chair MIGNON CLYBURN and FCC Commissioner AJIT PAI for taking a strong interest in revitalizing AM radio, which has a long and storied history of providing AMERICA's hometowns with news, entertainment, sports and community affairs information. AM radio is a cultural touchstone and jobs generator in cities large and small; many of the top revenue-generating stations are on the AM band. We strongly endorse the revitalization proceeding and stand ready to work with the FCC to develop meaningful solutions."