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What Else Is In The Clyburn AM Radio Proposal?


Up until Cyburn's proposal Wednesday, the Commission had been throwing AM operators a few crumbs.

They were small technical enhancements that had very little impact on how AMs could compete with the sound quality of FM, digital and other forms of clear sounding audio. They simplified licensing procedures and technical requirements -- including allowing “moment-method” modeling, which can save licensees over $100,000. The Commission also granted experimental authorization for all-digital AM operation and improving protection to AM stations from potential re-radiators and/or pattern disturbances. Nothing on the scale of getting all AMs sounding like a crystal clear FM. Here are the other enhancements Clyburn proposes in her plan to revitalize AM.
-- Relaxing the AM daytime community coverage rule to allow existing AM broadcasters more flexibility to propose antenna site changes.

-- Relaxing the AM nighttime community coverage standards, which will also provide broadcasters, who may have difficulty finding suitable sites, relief for towers, and
directional arrays.

-- Eliminating the AM “ratchet rule,” which requires an AM station to “ratchet back” its nighttime signal to reduce interference to certain other AM stations. The rule, while
intended to reduce nighttime AM interference, has instead discouraged service improvements and has apparently resulted in a net loss of interference-free, AM nighttime service.

-- Permitting wider implementation of Modulation Dependent Carrier Level, or “MDCL” control technologies, which allow broadcasters to reduce power consumption and allowing AM stations to implement MDCL operation by simply notifying the Commission, rather than having to seek experimental authorization or waiver. Modifying AM antenna efficiency standards by reducing minimum effective field strength values by approximately 25 percent, thus allowing the use of shorter AM antennas.

Clyburn did not give specifics on what happens next other than the commission would be taking comments.

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