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H&D Suggests Tax Benefit for Terminating ‘Substandard AMs’

Engineering consulting firm also says community coverage requirements are inappropriate in modern times

Engineering consultancy Hatfield & Dawson says the FCC should extend its AM revitalization rulemaking to accommodate additional proposals.

In comments filed with the FCC that are due this week, H&D makes several suggestions.

Perhaps the most bold is that the commission should ask Congress to provide a tax benefit to licensees who voluntarily elect to request license termination.

“This would encourage the licensees of some substandard AM operations to discontinue them,” writes H&D, noting that a large improvement in AM service appears unlikely unless “there is a large reduction in the numbers of stations, and such attrition should be encouraged.”

“Community coverage” requirements are inappropriate in the context of 21st century demographics “and should simply be eliminated. Even when these requirements were first adopted they were difficult to justify,” according to H&D, promising to give further details in its next filing.

Protected AM allocations should be based on noise level -1mV/m if not 2 mV/m groundwave for all station classes, suggests the engineering consulting firm. “The really significant problem for AM stations is not interference, it is the vastly increased electrical noise level ever since rural electrification,” writes H&D, which adds that modern use of switching power supplies, computers and computer-controlled devices “has merely exacerbated the problem. This is why many countries have higher power limits than the U.S. and why Canada allowed more than 5 kW for stations on regional channels.”

H&D suggests revising the co-and second-channel ratio also and eliminating the third-channel limitation, like other countries have done.

The engineering consulting firm applauds the FCC’s proposal to open an FM translator filing window exclusively for AM owners, however it does not believe that will meet demand, noting that competition for FM spectrum is “severe” in much of the country.

Watch our page for summaries of other comments to the FCC NPRM.