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Pai Bullish on AM, FM Chips

Commissioner hopes FCC opens FM translator window “no later than 2015”

In a Radio Show interview with NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai hopes the agency will take action in the short term on the AM revitalization proceeding.

In his third Radio Show appearance, the commissioner from Kansas hopes the commission will “get rid of the Ratchet Rule” and open a special FM translator window for AM owners “no later than 2015.”

He’s urging the agency to look at other ideas in the long term, like possibly authorizing all-digital AM and determining whether to ease skywave protections. “AM radio is where Democrats and Republicans can come together,” he said today.

Smith noted concern from some radio members about whether, after the FCC completes licensing low-power FMs, if there will be enough spectrum to accommodate FM translators. Acknowledging in the Top 20 markets it might be a challenge,” Pai said: “If we resolve this window promptly that will make it easier.”

Switching to the issue of getting more carriers to activate or integrate FM chips on smartphones, Smith asked Pai if he has ways to nudge the carriers in this regard. Pai said, “I’ve got to think consumer demand would eventually persuade them to default to activate the chip. Peer pressure is a powerful thing.” He pledged to continue to nudge his own carrier, which he did not name, and to speak for it generally.