“The most pressing matter on the FCC’s agenda when it comes to radio should be AM radio revitalization.”
So says Matthew Berry, chief of staff to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, speaking Wednesday to the Florida Association of Broadcasters.
Pai has been vocal on the AM topic, and much of Berry’s text reiterated Pai’s themes; but he put a sense of urgency on the discussion.
“AM revitalization is a cause with widespread support. Our 2013 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking passed with a unanimous vote. The record contains nearly unanimous support for all of our proposals from broadcasters, large and small, as well as civil rights groups who understand the importance of AM radio for minority broadcasters. The time has therefore come for the commission to take concrete action. Time isn’t on the side of the grand old band, and there is no excuse for further delay.”
Listing reasons that “AM radio is worth saving,” Berry mentioned news and information, localism, diversity and foreign-language programming. “Indeed, right here in Miami, six of the nine AM radio stations with the largest listenership last month were Spanish-language stations, while such stations accounted for only two of 10 ten highest-rated FM radio stations in the market.”
On another radio topic, Berry said, “The time has also come for the FCC to modernize our contest rules.” The FCC’s contest rule made sense in the 1970s, he said, when listeners couldn’t look up contest rules on the Internet; but “the rule should now reflect the digital world in which we live.” In 2013 Pai proposed giving broadcasters an option of disclosing contest terms online so long as a station broadcasts the address each time it mentions the contest. Berry said all feedback on the proposal has been positive.