NRB Weighs In on AM Revitalization

NRB recently filed comments in the Federal Communication Commission’s “Revitalization of the AM Radio Service” proceeding (MB Docket No. 13-249). A number of NRB members operate AM stations as part of their ministries, so NRB is particularly interested in this subject. Notably, NRB’s filing begins by being sure to “commend the Commission for seeking solutions to the many challenges facing AM radio service.”

This FCC proceeding was stirred in large part by calls for action by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai. For example, at the 2012 National Association of Broadcasters Radio Show, Commissioner Pai highlighted statistics about the current health of radio, including the fact that 93 percent of American adults listen to radio each week, average weekly listening is 14 hours, and more adults listen to radio than surf the Internet each day. He did note, however, decline in AM radio listenership, particularly striking in the 12-34 age demographic, among whom less than 10 percent of radio listeners tune in. Pai then proposed that the FCC launch an “AM Radio Revitalization Initiative,” a subject he returned to on numerous occasions, including at a meeting of the NRB Board of Directors last fall.

Spearheaded by NRB’s Office of General Counsel, led by Senior VP and General Counsel Craig Parshall, NRB’s public filing moves point by point through a number of questions raised by the FCC as to how best to re-invigorate AM radio. Notably, Mr. Parshall and Associate Counsel Jennifer Gregorin were careful to highlight, “In the midst of this changing radio landscape we would urge the Commission 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.” They also delve into technical subjects, 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.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: February 7, 2014