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Letter: Translators are a bridge to … what?

What’s the end game for AM revitalization?

Dear RW:

This is in response to Michelle Bradley’s earlier commentary about digital on the AM band.

Ms. Bradley’s observations were 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” rather than permanent, as he told a Kansas Association of Broadcasters gathering in 2016, 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 industries need 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.

She indicated that moving a translator 250 miles is only going to harm the opportunity for more, new LPFM stations, and I agree.

Repurposing Lo-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 keep their channel or change it, but the FCC should not license any more TV stations on Channel 6, particularly to LDTV, nor give it away free as white space to parasites like Microsoft.

Let AM broadcasters migrate to an expanded FM band, formerly Channel 6, if they don’t want to stay on AM, and forgo 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 on board 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 chairwoman and another Democratic commissioner is installed.

That may be a good thing for the future of FM broadcasting.

The author is a retired TV station owner.

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