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AM Analog Sunset Debated

Move to all-digital AM transmission system proposed with accompanying receiver mandate

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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