Will This FCC Proposal End Up Hurting AM Radio?


On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission proposed new rules to enhance the Wireless Emergency Alerts system. These rules aim to make the alerts available in over a dozen languages, include thumbnail-sized images and location-aware maps in alerts, and allow the option for alerts to be sent without the attention signal.

The timing of this announcement has raised eyebrows in the radio community in relation to the fight to keep AM in the automobile. One of the biggest arguments for preserving AM radio is access to public alerts in the event of an emergency or disaster.

Under the proposed WEA rules, the public would have the option to receive alerts without the attention signal to prevent unnecessary opt-outs. The FCC also wants to set minimum performance requirements to ensure WEA reliability, accuracy, and speed benchmarks.

While nobody is arguing against ensuring more safety measures are in place for the public, radio should keep an eye on how this proceeds in relation to the AM argument. Broadcasters do have one powerful argument in reserve. As NAB President Curtis LeGeyt said during his fireside chat at NAB Show, “When those messages pop up, what do they say? Check your local media.”


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