NRB Urges Congress to Protect AM Radio, Forgo Permanent Daylight Savings Time

NRB | March 16, 2023 | Advocacy News

Following the annual spring forward into Daylight Saving Time (DST), the NRB has renewed its opposition to federal lawmakers’ proposals to make DST permanent.

Upon the introduction of counterpart bills in the House (H.R.1279) and Senate (S.582) that proposed “to make daylight savings time permanent, the NRB sent letters to Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Ranking Member Frank Pallone of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Chair Maria Cantwell and Ranking Member Ted Cruz of the Senate Committee on Science, Commerce, and Transportation, urging them to vote against the bills as written when they are taken under consideration by their respective committees.

As the NRB and other broadcasters have pointed out, under the current regulatory framework governing AM radio licenses, moving to permanent daylight savings time would have a damaging impact on AM broadcasters by cutting significantly into the morning drive daypart, one of the highest-impact segments of the radio broadcasting day from both a content and advertising perspective.  

The NRB expressed this concern in its letters, stating:

The AM audio format presents certain limitations due to the way radio waves travel differently during the day and night. Most AM stations are required by the FCC to reduce power or power down completely at night to avoid interference with other stations. The radio broadcasting day kicks off with one of the most impactful dayparts from both a programming and revenue standpoint: the popular and familiar “morning drive,” which lasts from approximately 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. If Daylight Saving Time were made permanent, many AM stations would not be at full power or signal until at least 8:00 a.m. during the darkest days of the year from November to February, missing out on crucial morning drive listenership and advertising revenue.

NRB member Salem Media Group has also gone on the record to oppose these bills, writing to committee leadership that their nearly 70 AM radio stations and nearly 750 associated radio affiliates are all “in jeopardy of suffering a massive blow to their operations through a bill that is before you now. Salem argued that because the morning drive “generates the most amount of revenue and is a cornerstone for the rest of the programming day,” the move to make daylight savings time permanent “might likely be the death blow to many AM radio stations.”

Some lawmakers have called biannual time changes “antiquated” and “ritual,” and perennial proposals to make Daylight Saving Time permanent tout potential advantages like energy savings, reduced car accidents, and reduced health risks. The idea is not new. In fact, a switch to permanent Daylight Saving Time was attempted under the Nixon administration. Approval for the move dropped precipitously after it took effect, and the experiment was reversed after only a few months.

While AM broadcasters face considerable challenge and competition in today’s media environment, AM radio stations continue to play a crucial role in their local communities by providing news, traffic and weather reports, sports play-by-play, talk programs, and faith-driven programming and Bible teaching. They also serve as an indispensable resource in emergency situations, facilitating crucial communication when power is not accessible. The NRB has historically advocated for the protection and preservation of AM radio and monitors threats to the broadcasting business environment.

Read the NRB’s letters here and here.

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