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Reaction to AM Proposal Varied

As can be expected, industry participants have different opinions on how to fix the senior band

Reaction has been varied to the FCC’s release of its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to revitalize the AM band.

NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith praised Acting Chair Mignon Clyburn and Commissioner Ajit Pai for their interest in the senior band. “AM radio is a cultural touchstone and jobs generator in cities large and small. Many of the top revenue-generating stations are on the AM band.”

NAB “strongly endorses” the revitalization proceeding and is ready to work with the commission to stand ready to develop meaningful solutions, he said.

Ben Downs, vice president and general manager of Bryan Broadcasting, in Bryan, Texas also chairs the NAB AM task force. He’s encouraged that the commission sees AM as a strong component of local communities. The proposal for a special AM-only translator window for owners who seeks to fill-in their signal with an FM translator “is the lifeline many AM operators have been hoping for,” he tells Radio World.

“I was very pleased to see that the FCC is asking what the ‘next steps’ should be,” according to Downs. “I think this speaks to how well they understand the problems AM stations face and the commission’s desire to help.”

The proposed technical changes, like modifying AM antenna efficiency standards, for example, will help AM operators who are boxed in by community growth, he adds.

Womble Carlyle attorney John Garziglia calls the NPRM a good first step. The agency could have done more, by proposing to relax prohibitions on the move of existing FM translators to where they can better serve AMs, he adds. That kind of a change could go a long way toward helping AMs now rather than years later, he tells Radio World.

Garziglia, on behalf of client Bud Walters, owner of the Cromwell Group, has been pursuing the so-called Tell City waiver at the FCC so Walters could move an FM translator further than is now allowed.

Downs reminds us the AM revitalization NPRM isn’t a done deal and hopes the process reaches a conclusion soon.