FCC’s O’Rielly: AM Radio’s Fate Is Up To Listeners


The ultimate future of AM radio “will be decided in the market by stations seeking to meet the demands of listeners, as it should be.”

That’s according to FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who thanked the Association of Federal Communications Consulting Engineers at a Sept. 16 luncheon for its comments in the Commission’s AM Revitalization proceeding while noting that the commission can only do so much in the way of preservation.

“No amount of Commission action or government involvement is going to save the medium from irrelevancy if listeners and advertisers abandon stations, although I don’t see that happening in the immediate term,” he says.

From his conversations with AM radio license holders, that’s exactly how they see it too.

“They just want the Commission to eliminate some of the barriers to competition so they have the tools to win the hearts and minds of listeners and then let the chips fall where they may,” O’Rielly notes.

The FCC moved to a First Report and Order nearly a year ago on the proceeding, and he says that “after a lot of consternation, we were finally able to reach accord and provide many AM radio stations with new options to compete in the ever changing marketplace.”

O’Rielly says the order “provided multiple windows for AM broadcasters to relocate FM translator stations in order to rebroadcast AM signals, and many of the broadcasters have been taking advantage of the opportunity.”

He is also carefully considering an FCC proposal to reduce the protected daytime primary service contour for certain AM stations. “Of course, when doing so, the actual areas and levels of additional interference are of primary interest,” O’Rielly says. “Your comments succinctly and fully explain the differences between areas of contour overlap and areas of interference in a very helpful way.”