AM Revitalization Order OK’d Ahead Of FCC Open Meeting


The FCC late Friday deleted two agenda items from its September Open Meeting, set for Tuesday morning (9/26), giving unanimous consent and negating the need for discussion and debate.

The first of the two deleted agenda items focuses on the modernization of the FCC’s cable television technical rules. The second agenda item was a report and order that would have relaxed or eliminated certain rules tied to “revitalization of the AM radio service.”

Listed as “MB Docket No. 13-249,” the Commission was set to consider a Third Report and Order that relaxes or eliminates “certain rules pertaining to AM broadcasters employing and maintaining directional antenna arrays.”

That’s no longer necessary: The item has been adopted by the Commission. That’s great news for broadcasters seeking greater flexibility on FM translators for AM radio stations, giving operators another boost.

MB Docket No. 13-249 first surfaced in February, when the Commission expanded the site
locations where FM translators can rebroadcast AM radio stations. The amended rule, the Commission notes, “provides greater flexibility for an AM station to place a rebroadcasting FM translator in a location where it will better serve its AM station’s listeners.”

This is particularly beneficial for “daytimers” — AM radio stations that must decrease their power output during nighttime hours, or sign off the air entirely. Chairman Pai, an ardent supporter of AM radio, was a key champion of the legislation.

Under the old rule, which some broadcasters said was too restrictive, an AM station could place a rebroadcasting FM translator either within its daytime service contour or within a 25-mile radius of its transmitter, whichever distance was less.

The new rule adopted Friday allows the rebroadcasting FM translator to be located anywhere within the AM station’s daytime service contour or anywhere within a 25-mile radius of the transmitter, even if the contour extends farther than 25 miles from the transmitter.

The other agenda item gaining universal Commission consent on Friday is the “Cable Television Technical and Operational Standards” item, “MB Docket No. 12-217.” The Commission was to see the FCC consider a Report and Order that modernizes its cable television technical rules to reflect the cable industry’s use of digital transmission systems. The OK from the Commission on this item also means a Tuesday debate and discussion is no needed.

Still on tomorrow’s agenda for Media Bureau items are “MB Docket No. 17-231” and “MB Docket No. 17-105,” an amendment of Parts 74, 76 and 78 of the Commission’s rules regarding maintenance of copies of FCC Rules; and a Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative (MB Docket No. 17-105). This NPRM proposes to eliminate rules requiring certain broadcast and cable entities to maintain paper copies of FCC rules.

This story was updated at 9:35am Eastern on Sept. 25 and was originally published Friday, with an update at 5:45pm correcting originally published information in a Breaking News email distributed to RBR+TVBR subscribers.