Federal Communications Commission took new steps last week in its efforts to help
the fortunes of AM radio broadcasters.
On Sept. 22, it
eliminated certain rules pertaining to how AM stations employ and maintain
directional antenna arrays. The Third
Report and Order is a continuation of the commission’s efforts to “revitalize”
the AM radio service. Chairman
Ajit Pai had mentioned the new steps briefly at the fall Radio Show.
The order streamlines certain
technical requirements; by doing so, it said, “[we] free up resources to allow
those broadcasters to better to serve the public,” the FCC wrote.
of the way in which AM signals propagate, many stations must directionalize
their signals during some or all of the broadcast day in order to avoid
interference with other stations, and as any experienced AM broadcaster knows,
maintaining the directional pattern can be technically complex, time-consuming and
expensive. According to the commission, the new order should ease regulatory
and financial burdens.
The changes in store include:
the rule for partial proofs of performance of certain directional AM antenna
systems by reducing the number of field strength measurements required;
-Eliminating periodic recertifications of
the performance of a directional pattern for stations licensed pursuant to a
Moment-Method proof, requiring recertification only when equipment has been
repaired or replaced;
-Eliminating the requirement to submit
additional reference field strength measurements on relicensing of a station
that was licensed pursuant to a Moment-Method proof;
-Eliminating the requirement of a
registered surveyor’s certification when towers in an existing AM antenna array
are being used;
-Clarifying that the provisions of a certain
rule section will only apply when total capacitance used for Moment-Method
modeling of base region effects exceeds a particular value and only when a
particular type of sampling is used;
-Codifying the standards under which a new
Moment-Method proof of performance is needed when adding or modifying antennas
or other system components above the base insulator of a tower in an AM array.
The FCC did not address several
other changes that remain in the proposal stage, including the question of
relaxing the main studio requirements. That issue, it said, will be addressed
in a separate main studio rule proceeding.
When do these new
rulings take effect? The commission will publish a notice in the Federal
Register (after it receives approval from the Office of Management and Budget)
and an effective date will be announced.
Read the new order (PDF).