The radio industry simply couldn’t ask for anything better. By all indications the Chairman of the FCC is going to make radio one of his top priorities. We’ve already seen the Commission under Ajit Pai vote to do away with the 43-year-old rule that required you to save paper letters from listeners. And Thursday, at the NABA Future of Audio Symposium in Washington DC, the Chairman told a very friendly audience, “I’ve made AM radio a personal priority.”
Actually, fixing the AM band has been a project of his for the past five years.
Pai has been the loudest voice at the Commission on saving the AM band. He understands the AM band has technical problems and he knows both ad revenue and listeneship are declining. The most AM broadcasters got out of the last Commission was additional FM translators. Next week, the Commission will vote on a measure giving AM stations greater flexibility in siting their FM translators. The Second Report and Order would relax the siting rule for an FM fill-in translator rebroadcasting an AM broadcast station. Pai says this is a small step that would be a big help to AM broadcasters.
Next up in 2017, Pai says the Commission will open two new windows in which AM stations, that still don’t have an FM translator, can apply directly to the FCC to get one authorized. And he says the FCC will keep working on ways to improve signal quality on the AM band and reduce AM broadcasters’ operating costs.