Commissioners Push for AM Radio

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai (R) this week announced that he is continuing the push for a new FM translator application window solely for AM broadcasters.  Similarly, former Commissioners Michael Copps (D) and Robert McDowell (R) urged such a move in a joint column last week.  They stated that “such a window is the only way many AM radio stations will ever be able to obtain a translator and provide improved, expanded service to their listeners.” 

Earlier this spring, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler signaled interest in advancing the agency’s “Revitalization of the AM Radio Service” proceeding (MB Docket No. 13-249).  Commissioner Pai has also been actively advocating for such a move for several years, including at a meeting of the NRB Board of Directors.  In his statement this week, Commissioner Pai noted, “The moment of decision has arrived; Commissioners will now have to decide with whom they will stand....  [W]ill they stand for revitalization of a communications service that predates the FCC itself and has exemplified localism, competition, and diversity in broadcasting?”

NRB’s 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: October 2, 2015

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