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FCC Acts on Radio Items in 2013

AM dominates much of commission’s radio actions

The FCC accomplished a few things for radio in 2013.

Note this is not meant to be a comprehensive list, but a few notable actions.

Aside from opening a new application window for those who want to own a low-power FM, perhaps the most significant action concerned the AM band.

The commission released its long-awaited Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revive the AM band on Oct. 31. Among several proposals, broadcasters say the most significant is the plan to give every AM station the opportunity to apply for one FM translator to provide fill-in and/or nighttime service. The agency is taking public comments on the proposal (to MB Docket 13-249) until Jan. 21 and replies by Feb. 18.

The FCC clarified that any construction near AM towers that distorts the antenna pattern by more than 2 dB must be corrected by the offending party. The agency also designated “moment method” computer modeling as the primary method to determine whether a nearby tower affects an AM radiation pattern. The industry told the agency such modeling is more efficient as well as less time-consuming and less costly than traditional directional AM field strength proofs.

The FCC voted to relax its more than 100-year old policy to restrict foreign investment in U.S. broadcast companies to 25%; the change affects American broadcasters who wish to invest abroad as well. The commission approved a declaratory ruling that makes it clear that the 25% benchmark or cap on foreign investment in U.S. broadcast companies is a guideline only and the agency will consider, on a case-by-case basis, deals that would include a larger percentage of such foreign investment.