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Pai Hopeful About Progress on AM ‘In Coming Months’

FCC commissioner tells Pittsburgh-area broadcasters he’s had discussions with Acting Chair Clyburn about revitalizing the senior band

Meeting with Pittsburgh area radio executives, programmers and engineers at KDKA(AM) today, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said radio performs all the time, but especially in an emergency.

“From the St. Patrick’s Day Flood of 1936 to the flooding that hit Pittsburgh just a few weeks ago, radio has proven itself to be a quick, efficient and reliable means of getting emergency information out to the public in times of need. When other emergency sources fail, radio comes through,” said Pai. “When the 2010 blizzards left over 130,000 people in the Pittsburgh area without power, battery-powered radios gave residents information about clean up, power restoration efforts and where to go to seek shelter.”

Jim Graci, Program Director, KDKA-AM; Michael Young, CBS Radio Pittsburgh SVP and Market Manager; FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai; Ryan Maguire, Program Director, 93.7 The Fan; Mark Anderson, CBS Radio Pittsburgh Operations Manager and Program Director for 100.7 Star and Y-108
Click on the Image to Enlarge

Noting the historic significance of the 92+ year-old CBS-owned station, Pai said “Today, you can find excellent radio across the dial around Pittsburgh and throughout our nation. What began in that shack on top of the K Building has developed into the audible core of our national culture.”

He invited the some 35 to 40 area radio broadcasters to share their ideas on how radio can continue to be a relevant medium.

Regarding his call for the FCC to revitalize AM, Pai said he’s received great ideas from broadcasters over 10 months “and now is the time to take action.” Pai said he’s had “very productive discussions” with Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn about AM and is “hopeful we’ll see progress in the coming months.”

Radio rules in general are due for an overhaul, according to the commissioner, who also discussed the so-called contest rule, under which stations must give all the rules of a contest on-air. He agrees with a proposal by broadcasters last year that such rules can be posted on the Web. No one opposed that “common-sense” idea and it’s time for the FCC to take action on that he said.

We’ve reported that the commission has extended the comment period until Aug. 6 for the public to file comments on a new diversity study submitted by the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council. The study looked at whether eliminating the radio/TV and radio/newspaper cross-ownership rules and loosening the newspaper/TV cross-ownership rules would affect minority-owned facilities.

Saying it’s “unacceptable” that the review of the commission’s media ownership rules from 2010 still isn’t done in 2013, Pai said it’s time to modernize those regulations. Regarding the cross-ownership proposals specifically, Pai reiterated his call to eliminate the newspaper-radio cross-ownership rule. “In today’s day and age, if you think that the combination of a newspaper and a radio station poses a real threat to competition and diversity, then I have one of Pittsburgh’s 446 bridges that I’d like to sell you.”