MMTC To Trump: Decommission AM Band


    The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council has sent a letter to the new administration called “Twelve Imperatives to Close the Digital Divide and Advance Multicultural Media and Telecom Ownership and Procurement in the First 100 Days of the New Administration.” Point number 12: Create a “Glide Path” for the Short-Term Survival and Long-Term Humane Decommissioning of the AM Band in a Manner that Preserves Minority Ownership.

    The MMTC says the AM radio will disappear and the government should find a way to preserve AM radio’s program services. “It should seek to ensure that AM broadcasters receive fair compensation for the loss of their assets as well as assistance in transitioning their programming to other platforms.” The MMTC says it has formed the MMTC AM Glide Path Taskforce specifically for that purpose.

    The MMTC writes to Trump that AM has been the entry communications technology for entrepreneurs of color; even today, approximately 60% of all minority owned radio stations are AM facilities. The great majority of multilingual radio service today is found on the AM band.

    The FCC has enacted a series of modest engineering reforms: opening FM translator windows for AM stations, repealing the “ratchet rule,” and decreasing the community coverage requirement for AM stations lacking the capital and infrastructure to abide by the community coverage rule.

    The MMTC says that despite modes rule changes by the FCC, the fast-moving pace of technological development leaves AM stations, in the long term, constantly trying to catch up with their FM and new media counterparts. “Compounding the technological advances hindering AM stations is a lack of capital flowing into AM. AM listenership is on a steep decline, and AM radio stations are feeling the brunt of it. Realistically, AM may disappear in 30 years or less. Thus, it is time to start thinking about a future without AM radio. Should that happen, many AM station owners will need assistance transitioning to other platforms such as FM subchannels and online stations. We should consider the desirability of regulatory relief that may include some ownership structure rule relaxation for the limited purpose of ensuring that station sellers will find buyers, and compensation or tax incentives for turning in an AM license.”


    1. If AM is radio is going to die off or fade away, let it be a natural process without government intervention. Let the market place decide what happens. If stations have programs that are relevant and in step with main stream America, they will have listeners.

    2. When we bought KBBV 1050 AM at Big Bear Lake, California in 1997, it was a silent AM, destined for the trash heap of 250 watt failed day timers. It was no longer relevant or needed by the community.
      Twenty years later, “KCAA” 1050 AM is broadcasting from Redlands, California on 1050 AM and from Yucaipa and Moreno Valley California with two FM translators.
      Twenty years ago, I did not foresee this future; a future so filled with destructive progress that it would force us to broadcast on three terrestrial frequencies and offer more than 20 “new media services, just to stay relevant.”
      When the Internet arrived, it should have become obvious that a new generation of pimple faced nerds would try to make point to multi point free broadcasting irrelevant, starting with AM Radio.
      Now, to prevent our extinction, we must package and market quality content that maximizes our value and relevancy during every hour of the day and night.
      It’s too late to argue about the delivery system. It’s time to stand and deliver the best product possible over the maximum number of audio and video delivery systems. If we do it, we will always stay ahead of the curve.

    3. Perhaps it is my political paranoia-bred of the mainstream media’s agenda-news, but closing down talk radio, which is substantially “American Cultural” rather than “Multi-Cultural” and substantially AM, is a ploy to diminish talk radio. Combine that with a functional mainstream network boycott of facts, and you have information control. Not healthy for America. We have had quite enough ‘re-shaping of the 1st Amendment under the outgoing regime; and need more communication, not less. Every culture has equal access to AM radio broadcasting. Do not mess with the AM commercial marketplace through the government because one groups ‘talk’ is not commercially compete. If AM is to go, let its demise be of natural causes.

    4. I still stand by the idea that we should migrate all AM stations to the FM band, in the TV Channel 5 and 6 bandwidth. Both of our neighbors, Canada and Mexico, are moving as many of their AM stations as they can to FM, though, for them, the moves are onto the current FM band. In this country, with the conversion of TV stations to digital, the Channel 5 and 6 ‘real estate’ is sitting there, primed for FM radio stations. Let’s do it.

    5. After reading this I come away with the feeling that the MMTC is trying remain relevant since the administration that was receptive to their ideas is being replaced by one that runs on logic and sound business principles instead.

    6. This is ridiculous. AM radio is perhaps more successful here than in any other “First World” nation. In Ireland and in central Europe, there are ZERO AM broadcasters. Yet we have markets where AM radio stations still matter — New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and Boston being just some of these markets. I believe FM translators are a help but not a longterm solution. The true failure here is in the development of HD Radio, and as an IBOC based tool. Go to the UK and the DAB band is thriving. Of course, we have a country where Apps and Apple beat Radio to Detroit and as a result, Radio is again behind the curve on trends. Minority broadcasters do need a voice, and if you come to Miami you’ll see plenty of AMs finally getting deserved FM translators. But the industry’s leaders may wish to have truly meaningful discussions at the next Radio Show about how to migrate AM stations. Thirty years? AM radio will be gone in 15 years. Let’s figure out how the migration happens before these stations fade away as the 8-Track and the BBC World Service in the 31 and 49 metre bands did.

      • It cut off my last sentences, ugh …

        The migration from AM makes the most sense by moving them to HD2 and HD3 and even an HD4 channel, and working with manufacturers to make the wide majority of FM radios HD-ready. Otherwise, the focus will be on WiFi, and in-band, on-channel streaming audio that “corresponds” to an HD signal or something internet-based. But it’s ridiculous … that we are debating about AM’s future. AM has a future, on HD multicasts

      • I believe that something like five of the top 10 stations in the US are AM’s.

        Why even bother with legislation, let the marketplace decide.

    7. Should the government have compensated cassette manufacturers because the CD diminished their business? Has about grants to horse and buggy builders because of the car? No. Let am owners figure out how they are going to purchase their next platform of choice.

    8. I doubt closing down AM will help multicultural service since they make the point that a high % of that listening is done on the AM band. Seems contradictory at best.

    9. Hmm… Take a look at the states where Trump did best. Then take a look at the FCC’s M3 ground conductivity map: That map shows where AM signals perform best. The two kinda match up. Then look at the ratings for, say, Des Moines (, Fresno (, Chicago ( and Bismarck ( AM stations still top them all.

      I doubt Trump or his people will get the connection, but it’s there. Most of the top AMs in those regions do conservative talk radio. Might be in Trump’s interest to put off decommissioning AM to the next administration.


    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here