In July, we wrote about that the FCC was about to adopt final rules for over-the-air digital radio. But these expected final rules were pulled off the agenda of the FCC July meeting, and they remained in limbo for the last six months. Finally, today, the FCC announced that it will consider these final rules at its open meeting next week. The rules have reportedly been held up while considering requests by the Democratic Commissioners that specific public interest obligations be attached to any multi-cast digital streams that a broadcaster may offer.
But the rules will also consider interference issues, and may finally authorize AM digital operations at night. The rules should also give permanent authority to all digital radio operations which have, up to this time, been conducted under experimental or temporary authority. It will be interesting to see if the Commission will in fact finally reach a resolution of these issues at its March 22 meeting, and how they will resolve the question of the public interest obligations of digital broadcasters – probably through the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that is also on the agenda for next week’s meeting.