The FCC approved today the adoption of a rulemaking allowing AM stations to transition to all-digital operation.
Hubbard Radio’s “The Gamut” 820 WWFD Frederick MD has been operating in all digital mode since July 16, 2018 in collaboration with HD Radio owner Xperi. The new rulemaking will allow AM stations to go all-digital and establish operating parameters for doing so.
The FCC today also is opening a comment period on the removal of the programming duplication rule adopted in 1992. The rule limits AM or FM stations from airing more than 25% of total hours in an average broadcast week of duplicative programming. The rule applies to commercial stations in the same service (AM or FM) with substantial contour overlap that are commonlyowned or subject to a time brokerage agreement.[…]
All-Digital on the AM Band? The FCC Might Allow It Soon
AM radio station operators in the United States may soon have the option of switching their transmissions to all-digital.
It’s not a done deal; but the concept is about to take a step closer to reality, because the Federal Communications Commission will consider a proposal at its next meeting that would start a process. It will take comments on whether to allow AM band licensees to make the switch if they want.
Ben Downs, VP/GM of Bryan Broadcasting in Texas, petitioned the FCC in March to initiate a proceeding to authorize the all-digital mode of HD Radio.
Allowing stations to use all-digital transmission is an idea that some broadcasters feel could give business-challenged AM stations in the United States new life or at least another option. Turning off their analog signals would mean that most existing receivers could no longer pick up that signal; but many AM broadcasters are currently heard on FM translator simulcasts now. And adding the all-digital AM option could open up new possibilities for them as the number of digital receivers in the marketplace continues to grow.
[…]Chairman Ajit Pai described the proposal in a blog post Monday: “Just as the FCC is trying to keep pace with changes in the market, so are AM radio operators, and the commission wants to give them as much flexibility as possible to compete in the digital age,” Pai wrote.[…]
THE YEAR WAS 1906. On Christmas Eve of that year, Canadian inventor Reginald Fessenden carried out the first amplitude modulation (AM) radio broadcast of voice and music. He used a high-speed alternator capable of rotating at up to 20,000 revolutions per minute (rpm). Connected to an antenna circuit, it generated a continuous wave with a radio frequency equal to the product of the rotation speed and the number of magnetic rotor poles it had. With 360 poles, radio waves of up to about 100 kHz could be generated. However, Fessenden typically used a speed of 10,000 rpm to produce 60 kHz signals. By inserting a water-cooled microphone in the high-power antenna circuit, he amplitude-modulated the transmitted signal. On that Christmas Eve, he played phonograph records, spoke and played the violin with radio operators being amazed at what they heard.
Fessenden had earlier worked with spark-gap transmitters, as these were standard at the time for the transmission of Morse code, or telegraphy, the wireless communication method already in use. But they couldn’t generate a continuous wave and couldn’t produce satisfactory AM signals. But as telegraphy was the chief means of communication, they remained in use for many years along with high-powered alternators and the Poulsen arc transmitter, which could also generate continuous waves.