Congressmen Push for AM Radio Revitalization

Two members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee recently stated their support for strengthening AM radio.  Rep. Pete Olson (R-TX) and Rep. Gene Green (D-TX) sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler in support of the agency’s “Revitalization of the AM Radio Service” proceeding (MB Docket No. 13-249), which was initiated under previous Acting FCC Chair Mignon Clyburn.  The Congressmen emphasized that AM radio is “an important source for local news, public affairs and foreign language programming” and “critical to broadcast diversity.”  They were particularly interested in allowing an AM-only window for FM translators.

Earlier this spring, FCC Chairman Wheeler signaled interest in advancing this rulemaking. In a blog post he stated, “I intend to conclude this open item with a Report and Order that will buttress AM broadcast service and ease regulatory burdens on AM broadcasters.” Commissioner Ajit Pai has also been actively advocating for such a move for several years, including at a meeting of the NRB Board of Directors.

NRB’s formal filing in this proceeding discussed a number of technical considerations, such as day/night rules, as well as broad concerns about timing, costs, and incentives for any possible transitions or modifications required for AM operators. NRB particularly urged the FCC “to remember the value of smaller market AM stations that super-serve their local communities. If ‘revitalization’ is to be realized, then it surely must mean revitalizing the whole of AM radio, including both large market and small market stations.”

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: July 10, 2015

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