Japan Offers Long-Term Model for AM
The U.S. radio industry continues to digest
the impact of the recent AM “revitalization” order from the Federal
Communications Commission. This is one in a series of observer
Radio World asked REC Networks founder
Michelle Bradley to discuss her observations, particularly regarding the FCC’s
multi-step plan involving translators. REC Networks is a low-power
FM advocate and services provider that has filed comments in this and other
While I support a restricted window especially for Class D AM stations, I
am also concerned that the FCC may have violated the Local Community Radio Act
by narrowly restricting the translator window to AM licensees.
The LCRA states that LPFM and translator licenses will be
given based on “community need.” There is an additional “community need” that
was not addressed, FM translators for LPFMs, especially in rural areas to
expand their signals into other communities. Translators can be granted to LPFM
stations without prejudicing the AM licensees by allowing LPFMs to file in the
second 2017 window.
LPFM stations in urban areas may
receive additional interference from new translators outside their service
contours. REC is currently educating LPFM stations on how translators will be
expected to protect them. With the migration of translators from rural and
suburban areas to urban areas in 2016, this may provide some relief to LPFM
stations facing incoming interference or full-power displacement.
AM on FM translators should only be a temporary solution. The
proper solution is to migrate AM stations to the 76–88 MHz band.
Japan, which has far fewer commercial AM stations than the United
States, just recently expanded their FM band from 76–90 to 76–95 MHz and is
currently granting FM licenses to AM stations in a service being marketed as “Wide
FM.” Radios that cover the entire 76–108 MHz band are already being
manufactured and widely marketed in Japan.
stations (especially Class C and D) to 76–88 MHz will give them a better home
with primary status. It will be interesting to see how many TV stations will
choose to switch to Low-VHF during the reverse auction as the 54–72/76–88 MHz
spectrum is useless for DTV and new Channel 6 operations would have to protect
existing NCE stations.
Radio World welcomes other points of view. Post below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Receive regular news and technology updates. Sign up for our free newsletter here.