WASHINGTON, DC -- A 2007 proposal from the National Association of Broadcasters, which would allow AM stations to use FM translators to increase their audience reach, has been approved by the Federal Communications Commission.
In a Report & Order issued Monday (Word format | PDF format), the FCC acknowledges the fact that AM radio has been "an important component of the mass media landscape" but that the band has been threatened by several other services with much better audio quality -- including the FM band, satellite radio, personal media players, and online streaming.
The FCC says it has "taken various steps to revitalize the AM band," but goes on to admit, "there are inherent technical limitations to AM service for which there is no easy solution."
The Commission acknowledges that the relatively low power allocations granted to some AM stations prevent them from covering their full market area, and thus, from being strong competitors in the marketplace. It also notes that the extension of Daylight Saving Time has caused daytime-only AM stations to lose an hour of programming time every day during the additional four weeks of DST.
In the end, the new rule allows AM stations to begin using FM translators to rebroadcast their signals. Until now, FM translators could only be used to rebroadcast other FM stations. According to a write-up at Radio-Online, the new rule also allows daytimer class D stations to transmit on their FM translators at all times, even when the primary AM signal is shut off for the night.
No word yet on whether any local stations plan to take advantage of the new rule. If you're a GM, Chief Engineer, OM or PD who knows of any plans in the works, feel free to let us know so we can update the story. The address is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can use our Contact Form. Non-station-employees who simply wish to comment and/or share their wish lists can do so below, in the comments area.