The FCC this week released its agenda for its October 27 open meeting. At that meeting the FCC will consider a number of issues of relevance to broadcasters, including enhanced white space use in the TV band and an expansion of the requirement for audio description of video programming. It also plans to adopt an order authorizing licensees of AM stations to voluntarily transition to all-digital AM operations. A draft order setting out the FCC’s decision and the rules that it intends to adopt for all digital AM operations was released yesterday. We wrote previously about this proceeding on all-digital AM as it has progressed through the FCC (see our articles here and here).
The draft order on all-digital AM contains a discussion as to whether the Commission should put limits on the ability of AM licensees to transition so as to not take away service from existing listeners who do not have digital AM radios. The conclusion set out in the draft order is that there should not be restrictions on the ability of licensees to convert to all-digital operations. The FCC noted that as long as there are a substantial number of listeners without digital AM receivers, some AM licensees will have an economic incentive to continue to broadcast an analog signal. Thus, these analog listeners will not be left without service. The FCC also noted that its recent order abolishing the prohibition on radio stations duplicating the programming of commonly-owned stations serving the same area (see our articles here and here) would allow one owner to put the same programming on two AMs in the same area – one providing a digital program stream while the other continued analog operations. Thus, the FCC’s tentative decision is that there is no need to restrain stations from making the conversion.
Continue Reading FCC Announces Plans to Authorize All-Digital AM Radio at October 27 Open Meeting