Let’s Move on Updating the AM Radio stations Rules

Throughout her impressive tenure as Performing Chairwoman, Commissioner Clyburn kicked away an important proceeding asking what the Commission should do to keep AM radio thriving. The so-called AM Radio Revitalization NPRM started an important dialogue at the future of the AM band. We are committed to taking action in this continuing so that AM radio will grow while also preserving the beliefs of competition, diversity, and localism that have long been the heart and soul of broadcasting.

As the oldest broadcasting service, AM stereo has been a vital part of American lifestyle for decades and today remains an important supply of broadcast programming, particularly for local content. In fact , Americans turn to the particular AM dial for a majority of most of news and talk stations.

However , AM radio stations currently face unique technological challenges that will limit their ability to best assist their listeners. In some cases, outdated regulations make it difficult for AM stations to overcome these issues. In other instances, interference concerns that are unique to AM stations are an obstacle.

In the coming weeks, I actually intend to conclude this open item with a Report and Order which will buttress AM broadcast service and ease regulatory burdens on AM broadcasters. The proposed Order would certainly adopt specific measures to address useful problems and interference-related issues that have got long plagued AM stations across the nation. If adopted, these measures will certainly enable AM stations to operate more proficiently in today’s spectrum environment. For example , the proposed Order would give stations more flexibility in choosing web site locations, complying with local zoning requirements, obtaining power increases, and incorporating energy-efficient technologies. These activities will help to ease some of the technical restrictions that have hindered AM stations in serving their listeners.

The AM Radio community has also raised several noteworthy ideas in the proceeding that deserve more debate. I plan to circulate a companion Further Notice, proposing to permit stations serving smaller communities to increase their limited day and night time service areas while fully protecting larger, Class-A stations’ core company areas. As a result, these smaller marketplace stations will be better able to conquer environmental interference. The Notice will even seek input on whether and the way to open up the expanded AM band. Currently, there is room for additional stations in the 1605-1705 kHz AM band. I propose asking how the expanded band should be used to best serve the public, whether that is for stations migrating from the standard band, for new stations, or for all-digital stations.

Another issue raised in the NPRM is the use of FM translators to expand the quality of AM signals. FM translators can be used to rebroadcast the particular signal of a primary AM train station on an FM frequency. The NPRM proposed an exclusive opening of the FM translator window for AM licensees. I have two concerns about the record and whether opening such a window is necessary, given the current state of the marketplace. The first is whether there is an insufficient number of FM translator licenses available for AM stations. The number of licensed translators has increased 65 percent since 2003 (from roughly 3, 800 to 6, 300). We will likely greater than double the 2003 number of certified translators over the next 12-18 a few months as translator construction permits are built and licensed. Nearly 4, 1000 translators have changed hands since the 2009 order that made all of them available to AM stations for the first time, which includes over 600 sales to AM stations.

The second unanswered concern is why, if it is necessary to open up the translator window, it should just be opened for one group. AM stations should be (and are) permitted to improve their service by broadcasting concurrently on FM translators. Commercial for you to purchase FM translators abound and our policy should be (and is) to speedily approve such buys. But if we are to assure that spectrum availability is an open opportunity, then the government shouldn’t favor one course of licensees with an exclusive spectrum opportunity unavailable to others just because the company owns a license in the AM band.

I am committed to both improving the operations associated with existing radio licensees, as well as bringing in new entrants to radio. People in america benefit from a diversity of voices in broadcasting. In addition to the large embrace translators, the Commission is working on many fronts to increase the development options available on radio airwaves. For example , the Low-Power FM (LPFM) window we opened in 2013 promises new, hyperlocal services in major metropolitan areas for the first time. LPFM licensees must be nonprofit new entrants, by guideline. The number of LPFM licenses has increased simply by more than 30 percent since 2013, and more licenses will soon become available, which includes many new stations operating in best markets.

We have already been working to create opportunities for new traders into commercial radio. We will soon hold FM Auction 98, planned to start in July, which will offer 131 constructionpermits for vacant FM allotments. As we license these brand new stations, we provide credits to motivate participation by new entrants.

The numbers speak for themselves. In all of our FM auctions to date, an overall total of 920 allotments sold to 505 winning bidders. Fifty-nine % of those winners used a putting in a bid credit. More than 180 additional FM station licenses are likely to be issued under these procedures over the next 2 yrs. These actions hold the promise associated with enabling more new entrants, which includes women and minorities, to join the rates of radio broadcasters.

The Commission should eliminate unwanted rules that impair stations’ ability to serve their listeners, and we need to encourage a diversity of voices however we can. My proposal will both, and I hope my other Commissioners will support it.


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