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Letter: AM Digital – What Is the End Game?

Ms. Bradley is right on the money

This letter is from Daniel Brown, owner of the Part 15 station Zebra Radio on 1610 kHz and a retired TV station owner.

This is in response to Michelle Bradley’s commentary, “Even More to All-Digital AM.” Ms. Bradley’s observations are right on the money.

The problem is not knowing the end game for the AM revitalization initiative. If Chairman Pai inferred that FM translators are part of a transition or “bridge” as he said to a Kansas Association of Broadcasters gathering in 2016 and not permanent, then when do AM broadcasters flash cut to digital and turn their translator licenses in? What is the sunset date for analog AM?

Michi made the point that, “The automotive and radio receiver industry needs to make HD Radio, standard equipment, not a ‘luxury option’ like with some manufacturers.” So, when is the FCC going to step in and mandate HD Radio in all cars? It’s the only way this will happen.

I totally agree when she indicated that moving a translator 250 miles is only going to harm the opportunity for more, new LPFM stations. Repurposing low VHF for other uses is an idea whose time has come. The majority of TV broadcasters don’t want the band. Existing Channel 6 TV stations can either keep their channel or change it but the FCC should not license any more TV stations on Channel 6, particularly to LDTV (or give it away free as white space to parasites like Microsoft). Let AM broadcasters migrate to the expanded FM band (formerly Channel 6) if they don’t want to stay on AM, forego their translators and open the channels up to LPFM.

The truth is that the AM revitalization initiative was an Ajit Pai pet project. I don’t think the Democrats are onboard with giving more translators to AM broadcasters or in letting these broadcasters keep their translators indefinitely. In fact, the AM revitalization initiative might look entirely different once Jessica Rosenworcel is made permanent chairman and another Democrat-appointed commissioner is installed. That may be a good thing for the future of FM broadcasting.

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