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FCC About to Take More AM Steps

Technical tweaks to be voted upon next week

When the FCC meets next week it plans to vote on an order that would relax certain technical rules for AM stations in the United States.

Chairman Ajit Pai had announced at the fall Radio Show that he had shared the draft order with his colleagues; details are now public.

“In the 2015 AM Revitalization proceeding, the commission proposed to streamline certain technical requirements to assist AM broadcasters in providing radio service to consumers,” the staff wrote in a summary of what will become the Third Report and Order in Media Bureau Docket No. 13-249.

“For example, because of the way in which AM signals propagate, many AM stations must directionalize their signals during some or all of the broadcast day in order to avoid interference with other AM stations. Maintaining the directional signal pattern can be technically complex, time-consuming and expensive. Such stations are subject to a variety of commission rules requiring signal strength measurements and other analyses to ensure compliance with their authorizations.”

The order, it continued, will make rule changes to ease regulatory and financial burdens faced by AM broadcasters operating DA systems.

The proposal deals with MoM proofs, partial proofs and recertification measurements. According to the summary, the order would:

  • Relax the rule for partial proofs of performance of certain directional AM antenna systems by reducing the number of field strength measurements required;
  • Eliminate 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;
  • Eliminate the requirement to submit additional reference field strength measurements on relicensing of a station that was licensed pursuant to a Moment-Method proof;
  • Eliminate the requirement of a registered surveyor’s certification when towers in an existing AM antenna array are being used;
  • Clarify 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; and
  • Codify 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.