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Timeline: NAB Panel On Future Of AM

NAB AM Radio Panel Ajit Pai John Garziglia Ben Downs Glynn WaldenDay one of the 2013 NAB Convention kicked off with a panel led by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai to discuss the issues facing the AM band to remain relevant. Among the ideas discussed include going all-digital, power increases, or additional use of FM translators.

Scott Fybush has a detailed chronicle of the panel.

INSTANT INSIGHT: Nobody seems to have a clear idea what’s needed to resurrect and sustain the AM band. How many technologies go with minimal changes for nearly a century like AM has? The industry already passed on the potential of moving broadcasting to a purely digital platform a decade ago when they chose the analog/digital hybrid HD Radio standard. Instead of paving the way for using those digital subchannels to help AM stations relocate they’ve been given to the FM owners where they go unlistened.

So now we have a have and have not scenario with translators. As the AM band has become cluttered with more signals, some now wish to do the same with FM. There’s not enough room for existing FM stations, translators, and the addition of LPFM. Every discussion they’re having now regarding AM will just be duplicated in a few years with FM.

Shifting both AM and FM to a new digital band that also gives room for LPFM would make the most sense, or expanding analog FM into the current spectrum used by TV Channels 5 and 6. Perhaps keep a limited number of 50kW stations on AM for the purpose of emergency communications. But using new spectrum would go against the FCC’s plans to auction off as much of the TV spectrum as possible to the highest bidder.

And none of that even gets into the issues of content and demographics facing all of radio.

Profile photo of Lance Venta
Lance Venta is the Owner and Publisher of RadioInsight.com and a consultant for RadioBB Networks specializing in integration of radio and the internet. Lance has two decades of experience tracking the audio industry and its use of digital platforms.

2 Comments

  1. Profile photo of wing740


    Wow 30 years ago Stereo AM was supposed to save AM radio during the Reagan Era.
    But Wasn’t some of the Analog TV Signals supposed to auctioned off to more Wifi signals, DSL Signals and Smartphone signals.

  2. Profile photo of MattParker


    My two cents: AM’s big advantage are it’s ability to go beyond line of sight. I don’t have technical specs but driving across country, class A and B stations between the Appalachians and the Rockies are still able to put out clear signal over a large geographic area – often areas not densely populated. I say get rid of the clutter on the AM, all the class C and D, all the daytimers, all the station on local frequencies. Allow remaining stations to increase power and get rid of directional patterns – even go 500kw like WLW did at one time. In return, remaining AM stations have ownership limits and must do local-live programming and otherwise operate under the old rules for news and public affairs programming.
    And no IBOC.

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