On Friday, the FCC announced an extension of the deadline by which reply comments are to be filed in the proceeding to look at ways in which to revitalize AM radio. Almost 150 comments were filed in the FCC’s proceeding to look at ways to revitalize the AM band. Because of the volume of the filings, the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers asked for more time to analyze these comments and prepare a reply pleading. AFCCE is the association for engineers who work with broadcasters on technical matters, and they needed more time to thoroughly analyze all of the comments and discuss positions with their members. As the principal issues raised by this proceeding were technical ones (see our summary of many of those proposals here), the FCC agreed to extend the reply date until March 20.
In addition to the specific technical proposals made in the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in this proceeding, the FCC also proposed opening an FM translator window for AM stations, a proposal that has received much interest from broadcasters. However, it may be difficult to deliver enough translators to serve all the AMs that want one – especially in larger markets where the spectrum is already congested, with most of the room for new translators taken up by applicants in the recent LPFM window. The NPRM also asked for other ideas, and an all-digital AM service was mentioned in several comments – though such a proposal would take another rulemaking to implement. A number of parties have suggested various ways to improve the AM service that may also need to be the subject of subsequent proceedings. So look for this attempt to breathe life back into the AM service to be exploring issues for quite some time. But, for now, interested parties should get their reply comments in by the March 20 deadline.