AM stations have been struggling for years in both Canada and the USA. Signal issues, poor building penetration, greater interference from other electrical equipment, and more people expecting better audio quality than AM can deliver, have all contributed to smaller audiences and lower revenues for AM stations.
At the NAB conference in Orlando this week, the acting FCC Commissioner, Mignon Clyburn, circulated a Notice of Proposed Rule making that, she says, “will represent the next major step in the commission’s review of AM service.” Included in this notice is news that the FCC will be opening a one-time filing window for AM licensees to apply for an FM translator in their service area. That means it’s possible that every AM operator could eventually rebroadcast their programming on an FM translator.
The details are still vague, and frankly, it seems implausible that there could be that many viable FM frequencies available to allow all the AM stations to provide a strong FM signal over their licensed coverage areas.
But if this was to happen in the USA, one wonders how long it would take Industry Canada and the CRTC to also look at offering something similar to the 129 AM stations that continue to operate in Canada. You can read more about this story here thanks to Radio Ink. Perhaps AM owners will be prepared to hang on a little longer in the hopes of getting an FM translator, or at least be able to sell their AM station at a higher price.