The order opens with a two-pronged plan to offer FM Translators to as many AM stations as possible. First in 2016 the agency will allow where an AM licensee or permitte to acquire and relocate one and only one authorized nonreserved band FM translator station up to 250 miles, and specify any rule-compliant non-reserved band frequency. Then in 2017 or later AM stations that do not file a modification application in 2016 will be able to participate in an auction for new translators with preference being given to Class C and D licenses.
Next is a modification of community coverage standards for existing AM stations which will be lowered to to require that the daytime 5 mV/m contour encompasses either 50 percent of the area, or 50 percent of the population of the principal community to be served. However the agency states that the Media Bureau should examine closely any request by a station to reduce community coverage during its first four years of licensed on-air operation, and grant it discretion to dismiss any such application absent a compelling reason warranting reduced nighttime service.
The order will also eliminate the “Rachet Rule” that “required a Class A or B AM broadcaster, seeking to make facility changes that modified its AM signal to demonstrate that the improvements will result in an overall reduction in the amount of skywave interference that it causes to certain other AM stations”. Wider implementation of modulation dependent carrier level control technologies and modifications of antenna efficiency standards will be made to help decrease noise and interference on the AM band.
On other proposals the agency seeks addition comments before moving forward. These include modifications to the protected contours of Class A stations, daytime protections to Class B, C, and D stations, expanding FM translators from a 25 mile radius of an AM to 40 miles, and requiring the surrender of one of the licenses by stations that had been granted a second signal in the expanded band. The FCC is also inquiring on the possibility of allowing additional stations in the expanded band (1605-1705) and relaxed main studio requirements.