FCC Sets End Date For Comments On Digital Radio’s Expansion


The Federal Communications Commission has set a deadline for comment submissions on the Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to increase digital radio’s over-the-air reach.  On July 31, the Commission adopted the NPRM to potentially update its rules, providing FM and LPFM applicants with increased flexibility in digital power levels.

The NPRM was published in the Federal Register on August 22. The Media Bureau has announced that comments must be submitted by September 21, while reply comments are due by October 6. Interested parties can submit their comments through the Commission’s online comment system, referring to MB Docket No. 22-405.

The NPRM seeks comments on two specific proposals. The first proposal is set to revise the methodology for calculating the maximum permissible digital power level for digital FM or LPFM applicants. This amendment could pave the way for more stations to broadcast at enhanced digital power levels, potentially improving signal quality, an issue often associated with OTA digital distribution.

The second proposal is geared towards allowing FM stations to operate their digital sidebands at different power levels. This would grant broadcasters more flexibility in optimizing power without causing interference, further enhancing the reach and quality of digital radio.

Currently, over 2,000 FM stations in the U.S. broadcast digitally, providing listeners with enriched audio and additional information such as song details. These new proposals by the FCC aim to build on this foundation by addressing current challenges and exploring new opportunities for growth in the digital radio landscape.


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