The FCC’s proposal to allow AM stations to voluntarily transition into all-digital operations (see our post here for a summary of the FCC’s proposal) was published in the Federal Register today. That sets the comment deadlines in this proceeding – with initial comments due March 9, 2020 and reply comments due by April 6. AM stations interested in making this voluntary conversion should file their supporting comments in this filing window.
As we wrote last week, this proposal could, in some instances, tie in nicely with the FCC’s proposal to change their rules that currently prohibit AM stations serving the same geographic area from duplicating more than 25% of their programming. Were that rule to be changed, an AM station transitioning to digital could theoretically acquire (subject to multiple ownership rule limitations) another local AM to continue to broadcast an analog signal – giving an operator a beachhead in the new digital technology while still serving audiences who do not have digital AM receivers. We will see how the comments play out in the coming months – but if you are interested in filing, pay attention to these comment dates that have now been set.