We’ve recently written much about Internet radio, digital radio, digital television and all sorts of new technologies to electronically deliver media content.  But the grandfather of all electronic media – AM radio – still provides significant service.  A recent Petition for Rulemaking suggests certain technical changes to increase the service provided by these stations. In particular, the proposed changes would allow longer, higher powered operations by stations that are forced to reduce power or cease operating at local sunset.  A summary of the petition prepared by the engineer who drafted it can be found here.  It proposes that AM stations who are forced to reduce power at sunset be allowed to operate with higher Post-Sunset Authority.  It also suggests that the power allotted AM stations for Post Sunset and Pre-Sunrise Authority  be computed based on the location and time of sunset and sunrise at the location of the stations which the local station could interfere with, rather than requiring reduced power when during the hours of darkness at the location of the station that has to reduce power.  These changes are particularly important in the shorter daylight hours in the upcoming winter months.  The FCC recently gave public notice of the filing of this petition, and comments can be filed at the FCC until August 20, 2007.  The Commission will evaluate these comments and determine if a formal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is warranted, at which time further public comment would be taken.

This proposal is but one of a host of current proposals pending for the AM service.  A few months ago, we wrote about a proposal for easing proofs of performance for AM stations, and before that, we wrote several posts, here and here, about the long-pending proposal filed by the NAB seeking to allow AM stations to use FM translators.  While initial comments have been filed on the Petitions for Rulemaking in these matters, neither of these proposals has yet reached a formal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.  Much further advanced is the FCC’s Order allowing AM stations to operate digitally at all hours – which, as we wrote in May, was released two months ago after being originally adopted at the FCC’s March meeting.  However, the digital order does not become effective until 30 days after publication in the Federal Register which, for some unexplained reason, has not yet occurred.  And many AM stations are waiting for this publication so that they can begin full-time digital operations, and others wait for these other actions to help this oldest of electronic media outlets.