FCC’s Fall AM Revitalization Order Now Effective


On Sept. 22, 2017, the FCC deleted two agenda items from its September Open Meeting, 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.”

That Third Report and Order that relaxes or eliminates “certain rules pertaining to AM broadcasters employing and maintaining directional antenna arrays” has just become effective.

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 2017, 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, which took effect Wednesday (3/21) upon its printing in the Federal Register, 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.