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AM DA Proof-of-Performance Changes in the Wind

FCC appears poised to act. ‘It’s the biggest change in AM rules in 50 years.’

AM directional stations may soon get a break. It appears the FCC is poised to approve the proposal to allow AMs to use computer modeling and calibrated antenna monitoring systems to ensure proof-of-performance for AM directional antenna arrays.

The current method involving magnetic field strength measurements is more time-consuming and costly, those who favor the change say.

CBS Radio’s Ray Benedict, spokesman for a group of broadcasters, consulting engineers and equipment manufacturers who favor the change, tells me he hears that the item has moved from the FCC’s Media Bureau to the eighth floor, where the commissioners will likely vote by circulation.

He’s hopeful that could happen either before or during the upcoming NAB Radio Show. (And if it does happen in that timeframe, the AM Directional Antenna Performance Verification Coalition must have some heavy pull, given the FCC’s increasing focus on broadband- and DTV-related issues, before the elections.)

Actually, two items may be coming out of the agency on this issue: a Report & Order changing Part 73 of the rules to allow computer modeling instead of field strength measurements to field-proof an AM DA, and a Further Notice on a proposal to move its various rules that require measurements when a tower is built near an AM antenna to be moved to Part 17.

“It’s really good news for AM broadcasters,” Benedict told me. “It’s the biggest change in AM rules in 50 years.”

Background about the group and the proposal is in this RW story of June 2007.