Monday, September 22, 2014

Please help me understand YOUR Federal Communications Commission

by Don Keith

Article in today's broadcasting trade press:

FCC deals AMs a setback on translator moves.
Waivers won’t bring relief for AMs after FCC rejects Tell City plan. It may have been the most closely watched waiver request in a generation because of its potential impact on AM radio. But despite popular support among broadcasters, the FCC has rejected the so-called Tell City waiver request that would potentially have given AM operators more flexibility in buying FM translators and moving them into their markets.
So, can someone in the broadcasting biz--and especially operators of AM-band stations--please help me understand how giving AM licensees first dibs on FM translators will, in any way, help AM radio to survive?

Please.  Tell me how it helps to:

  • Put current programming that is already being ignored on AM in a simulcast on FM.  So much of what passes for programming down there is stations simply riding syndication from a satellite.
  • Put more translators on an FM band that is already becoming cluttered due to all those "digital 2" translators, low-power FMs, and a serious lack of FCC enforcement of first-, second-, and third-adjacent channel protection for existing signals.
  • Give AM operators something else they can't sell to advertisers because there are no listeners to respond to their ads.
Seems to me there are better ways to give some relief to AM, including forgetting protecting clear channels at night, being less severe on directional patterns, and finally getting serious about the atrocious amount of electrical noise that is polluting the spectrum.

But even with that, I believe it is already too little too late for the AM band.  That chunk of spectrum will be a nice addition to the 160-meter amateur radio band in less than a decade.  And we hams will assure there are more people listening to stations between 540 and 1700 at that time than there is now in most markets.


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Bruce Zuckerman said...

You might address these questions to my friend Barry Mishkind. Go to thebdr dot net.