Pai Calls for AM Revitalization, Elimination of Radio-Newspaper Cross-Ownership Ban
New FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, a Republican appointee, called for the formation of an FCC committee to revitalize AM radio and also backed the elimination of all limits on radio-newspaper cross-ownership.
Mirroring the questions that the NAB Radio Technical Committee has been asking, Pai proposed the commission launch an initiative to revitalize AM in early 2013 and complete it in early 2014.
“We should focus on one basic question: are there regulatory barriers we can remove to help this sector rebound?” he asked, according to his prepared remarks, noting the relative decline in AM service in the 21 years since the agency last updated its AM rules.
The committee should look at all of the suggestions to liberalize its AM rules to allow for broader and better AM signal reception, including an across-the-board power increase, synchronous AM transmission systems and so-called “anti-skywave antennas,” said Pai.
As for the media ownership rules, the commission should lift restrictions on newspaper/radio cross-ownership — not just in the top 20 markets — but in all markets, according to the commissioner. He said he can’t find significant evidence to justify continuing the prohibition.
In his first appearance before the Radio Show, Pai said the agency should target year-end to complete the review of its media ownership rules.
Pai has met with broadcasters more than 20 times in the four months since he was sworn in as an FCC commissioner. There’s a perception among broadcasters that the agency is indifferent to the fate of radio and TV, Pai said, though he doesn’t believe that perception is accurate. The commission can do a better job of focusing on what’s important to broadcasters. “We also need to make a greater effort to keep the lines of communication open between us,” he said.