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NAB Cites Interference to AMs in Translator Petition

NAB Cites Interference to AMs in Translator Petition

We now have more details on NAB’s petition that the FCC allow AMs to use FM translators:
Electromagnetic interference to AM stations is increasing, says NAB. Such “interference generated by power lines, computers, traffic signals sensors, electric motors, fluorescent lighting, RF from cable TV lines, and certain kinds of medical equipment often disrupt the strength and clarity of AM radio signals. In particular, power utility poles made of metal, which are rapidly replacing wooden poles, can radiate AM signals, creating distortion and nulling a station’s signal in parts of the intended coverage area.”
Underground sensors that trigger traffic signals have also become a problem. The 50,000 watt signal of WSM(AM), Nashville, Tenn., is wiped out at the busiest intersection in the entire State of Tennessee, located in Murfreesboro, because of interference from an underground traffic sensor, states the trade group.
Several NAB members with AM stations report coverage area losses of 80% to 95% at night when they must protect clear channels. This will become worse starting in 2007, when Daylight Saving Time will begin three weeks earlier in March of that year. “Consequently, many AM stations, and particularly daytime-only services, will completely lose an entire hour of early morning drive-time programming or be forced to operate at very low power during that vitally important hour,” states NAB in its petition.
NAB realizes the commission has rejected the notion of allowing AMs to use FM translators before, citing previous similar requests and FCC rejections in 1981 and 1990. One such request that remains pending came from the defunct AM owner group ACAMBA in 1999. NAB opposed that, arguing it wasn’t the right time to delve into the issue since the commission had just launched the proceedings to establish IBOC and LPFM.
Now is the time to reconsider the request, says NAB, as IBOC service will soon be available in 50 markets, including 42 of the top 50 and AM stations are “encountering more interference problems as a result of an increase in ambient noise.”
NAB believes its petition is consistent with FCC’s efforts to help AMs, such as allowing some facilities to migrate to the expanded AM band to ease congestion in that service.
“Allowing AM radio stations to license and/or operate FM translators would be a consistent, logical extension of this long-term effort,” states the trade group.
AM radio formats often focus on “local, community-responsive issues to distinguish themselves in an increasingly competitive market.” All-news, all-sports, 24-hour talk radio and religious programming formats are common and 91.5% of news/talk formats are on AM, according to NAB.
AM ownership is diverse. According to BIA there are approximately 4,814 AM radio stations licensed in the United States. These stations are owned by some 2,452 different owners.