NASHVILLE, TENN. — More than two years ago, the FCC began to consider the creation of a new class of FM stations – one that would broadcast at 12Kw from a reference antenna height of above average terrain of 100 metres.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai wants to push the proposal to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which would allow the Commission to vote yes or no on the plan.
“Under this proposal, it’s likely that hundreds of Class A FM stations could upgrade to Class C4 FM stations,” Pai said in prepared remarks delivered at the 2016 Radio Show in Nashville on Thursday. “The feedback that the FCC received on this idea was generally positive. In particular, there was broad support for the idea from FM stations in rural areas and small towns. For example, the owner of KVPI-FM in Ville Platte, Louisiana said that proposal would mean his station’s Cajun French and local music programming would reach a larger area of South Central Louisiana.
The proposal also has been endorsed by the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC), which says that “expanding coverage areas to connect with a broader audience could help small and minority-owned stations gain access to capital and strengthen their foothold in the broadcasting arena.”
Pai adds, “An NPRM would allow us to ask the right questions, explore the advantages and disadvantages of the proposal, and receive the views of all stakeholders. Then, we would be in a much better position to determine whether to implement this idea.”
Pai also took time out to push the activation of FM chips in smartphones.
Last week, the Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC), an FCC Advisory Committee, “recommended that the FCC encourage the ongoing voluntary efforts between device manufacturers and the wireless industry toward enabling FM radio in smartphones to the extent commercially viable for all parties.”
CSRIC pointed out that “having access to terrestrial FM radio broadcasts, as opposed to streaming audio services, may enable smartphone users to receive broadcast-based EAS alerts and other vital information in emergency situations—particularly when the wireless network is down or overloaded.”
Pai said, “As more and more Americans use activated FM chips in their smartphones, consumer demand for smartphones with activated FM chips should continue to increase. As an FCC Commissioner, I will continue to speak out about the public safety benefits of activating FM chips and ask the wireless industry to do the right thing.”