A few weeks ago, we wrote about the most immediate part of the FCC’s plan for the revitalization of AM radio – providing more FM translators for AM stations. As the FCC has just announced the deadline dates for the filing of public comments on the reform proposals, setting the comment deadline for January 21 and the reply comment deadline on February 18, we thought that it was time to return to the subject to address some of the FCC’s other proposals. As we mentioned in passing in our last article, the other proposals do not address any fundamental change in the AM service or anything that will necessarily help to overcome the interference issues that have made life difficult for many AM stations in an urban environment. Instead, they look at ways to make current AM station operations easier. In some ways, the order almost looks to be looking for ways to stem the loss of AM stations until a long-term solution for the saving the service can be devised.
Revitalizing AM radio is not easy. As the oldest radio service, the very things that made it attractive to the early days of radio – being able to reach vast areas of the country – now create problems. The fact that AM stations have “skywave” signals that bounce off the atmosphere and travel hundreds, even thousands of miles, especially at night, also mean that their signals interfere with other stations on the same frequencies thousands of miles from their transmitter sites. And, as more and more electronic “noise” has entered the environment, from relatively new technologies including florescent light bulbs to garage door openers and other wireless remote control devices, AM signals have proved to be especially susceptible to interference from these sources, especially in urban environments. These problems are difficult to address without fundamental changes in the service. But some quick fixes are possible to address more short-term needs of AM operators, and these are the kinds of issues addressed in the new rulemaking.
Continue Reading FCC Proposals for AM Radio Part 2 – Comment Deadline Dates, Site Moves and Unaddressed Questions