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.”