AM Analog Sunset Debated

The concept of an analog sunset and AM radio’s move to an all-digital system received support at the NAB Show.

Several panelists said the move to all-digital should be accompanied by a government mandate for good-quality AM tuners in receivers and for manufacturers to include an HD component in all radios. CBS Radio SVP Engineering Glynn Walden said many of the previously suggested solutions for AMs technical problems wouldn’t get to the heart of the band’s problem. That’s why he suggested sunsetting analog AM transmission in favor of an all-digital mode. Moving Ams to television Channels 5 and 6 won't work, he said, because television wants to preserve those channels.

In what may be the first time an FCC commissioner has moderated an NAB Show panel, Commissioner Ajit Pai said, “It’s high time we revisited the AM rules. You know as well as I do that AM still matters.” Many of the attendees stood up and applauded the commissioner.

Pai urged broadcasters to continue sending suggestions for how to improve AM radio’s plight to his office.

Read the opening remarks by Commissioner Pai.

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Comment List:

Commercial AM remains very healthy in many big markets and so retiring the band or converting it to all-digital is far too drastic. The issue remains that the Ibiquity solution for AM in its present form is not the best method to bring the AM band into the digital era.
By Peter Blake on 4/19/2013
Where is Roys abd Sammys comments?
By Dennis Nilsson on 4/19/2013
Asking Glynn Walden about HD AM is like asking Derek Jeter about the Yankees.
By Buzz Sarnoff on 4/16/2013
The problem is the band not the mode. If the band was digital only, the noise would shrink the coverage areas. I don't care if the TV stations don't like losing channel 5 and 6, we need the band for audio broadcast. We must be efficient with the new band and that requires a digital signal. We should make our own version of DRM called DRA. DRA would use the free codec, Opus instead of AAC.
By Peter Wankerman on 4/13/2013
Roy and Sammy really hit the nail on the head. Their thinking follows what I have found on my own. In my experience, a good AM Stereo station does very well. (1 to 5kw class) DRM has proven to be very viable in Europe as well. The downside is that no matter the digital mode, it occupies a large bandwidth. This tends to make the radio neighbors very mad.
By michael payne on 4/10/2013
This might as well be a "sunset the AM band" proposal. If AM goes all digital, 99.9% of consumers will immediately give up on the band. Try to make all radios HD capable is laughable, because most people won't pay over $5 for a radio.
By Bruce Carter on 4/10/2013
In my opinion, this is a suicide mission to make AM all digital. It's proven not to hold-up during thunderstorms, where analog has static, but is still usable. A huge base of existing analog AM receivers. It's a case of national emergency to keep at least half the AM band all analog for emergencies an AM radio lasts for days on battery power; a digital radio for hours on a non-replaceable battery.
By John Pavlica on 4/10/2013
This sounds good, a long as the system employed is DRM and NOT IBOC
By Sammy T on 4/9/2013
This sounds like a way for large broadcasters to trump small broadcasters. If the FCC really wants to help, they should make FM translators avaiable to existing AM stations, and those translators should receive "Primary Status," rather than "Secondary Status" they currently have. As it is, a new move-in could bump the translator and that could spell the demise of the AM station.
By Chuck Conrad on 4/9/2013
Here we go again. Glen has overseen the hybrid mode at night making high power night signal listneing nearly impossible. Maybe CBS can afford to power down their high power major market stations or justify taking the lowest totem pole FM over to simulcast while we await the new HD only receivers. Say anything long enough these days and it is The Gospel, right?
By jerry smitj on 4/9/2013
This will open up a huge can of worms. The FCC made adoption voluntary precisely because of the proprietary nature of HD Radio. How will the FCC walk back from that? And what sort of precedent will this set for an analog/digital sunset of FM?
By John Anderson on 4/9/2013
The majority of attenders were from the big company's and they support digital AM course they wil get rid of the free small AM stations of 1 k's or less. like part 15 stations. Most and majority of am stations want to continue in analog and in Stereo too.Cheaper transmitters, cheaper recievers on the market !!
By Roy Sandgren on 4/9/2013

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