FCC petition to allow all-digital AM radio

Writer Paul  McLane reports in today’s  “radioworld.com ” Bryan Broadcasting Corp. on Monday filed a petition for rulemaking asking the commission to initiate a proceeding to authorize the MA3 all-digital mode of HD Radio for any AM station that chooses to do so.’  Bryan Broadcasting is a small group owner of both AM & FM stations in central Texas.  They won’t be the first broadcaster pushing ahead for all-digital AM radio: There is one AM station in the country with special temporary authority to broadcast in all-digital. Hubbard’s WWFD in Frederick, Md., near the nation’s capital has been on the air since last summer.  Locally, Andy Skotdahl’s 1520 KKXA “Classic Country KXA” did a similar & somewhat successful experiment turning off their analog signal on 1520 & broadcasting using only MA-3 digital transmission.  Reports throughout the northwest were positive regarding reception.  Bryan’s vice president Ben Downs provides a number of supporting arguments: “The time has come to allow AM licensees the option to license their stations as all-digital, using the HD MA3 mode,” Downs wrote, calling for a formal rulemaking to adopt rules permitting AM licensees to have the option to go all-digital using the currently experimental MA3 mode. There may be further work needed on that mode, he wrote, but in the meantime, the audience for AM radio continues to erode. “As we have all read, some electric car manufacturers are excluding AM radio from their dashboard radios due to impulse noise. All-digital operation would be the cure for that.”  Downs also notes the increasing interference problems plaguing analog AM radio signals & comments that the recent allowance of FM translators is not the ultimate answer to AM’s future.  It will now be up to the FCC to consider this proposal as part of their ‘AM Revitalization’ strategies for future consideration.


Author: Mike Cherry

retired broadcaster: on-air, MD, PD, asst PD, Prod Mgr, IT, station technician/engineer, pioneer Internet webcaster, station installation/maintenance; 12 years in commercial radio, 17 years volunteer in campus/community radio in B.C., Alberta & Wash. Amateur radio operator & "DXer" specializing in AM night-time DX, short-wave DX/listening & remote SDR DXing/listening

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