Last week, acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn delivered a speech at the NAB Radio Show, which talked about new technology and old, and her affection for AM radio. In the most newsworthy aspect of the speech, the Chairwoman announced that the FCC is currently considering a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking looking to improve the service delivered by AM radio. As we wrote here, the issue of AM improvement has been a major initiative advanced by Commissioner Pai, looking to restore AM radio’s competitive posture. Attention is needed to overcome some of the many obstacles that AM faces, including those from interference that has increased significantly in many metropolitan areas, causing more and more electronic “noise” that disrupts the AM service. The discussion at the Radio Show raised several proposals for AM relief. But will they really help AM stations?
First, it is important to understand that the Chairwoman was talking only about a series of proposed actions – nothing has yet been decided. There is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that is circulating at the Commission. This means that the proposal has been drafted and is being reviewed by the other Commissioners. Once they finish their review, the Notice will be released to the public, which will then have some period of time (probably a few months) to comment on the suggestions made by the Commission. According to the Chairwoman’s speech, and echoed by Commissioner Pai in an address that he delivered to the Radio Show, broadcasters will also be urged to come forward with their own ideas as to how to improve AM radio. All of the comments filed by the public will have to be digested before the Commission can actually implement any of them. With that background, what is to be proposed, and which actions will likely move the fastest?