The FCC today issued the long-awaited text of its decision on Digital Audio radio – the so-called IBOC system. As we have written, while adopted at its March meeting, the text of the decision has been missing in action. With the release of the decision, which is available here, the effective date of the new rules can be set in the near future – 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register. With the Order, the Commission also released its Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, addressing a host of new issues – some not confined to digital radio, but instead affecting the obligations of all radio operations.
The text provides the details for many of the actions that were announced at the March meeting, including authorizing the operation of AM stations in a digital mode at night, and the elimination of the requirements that stations ask permission for experimental operations before commencing multicast operations. The Order also permits the use of dual antennas – one to be used solely for digital use – upon notification to the FCC. In addition, the order addresses several other matters not discussed at the meeting, as set forth below.