Tuesday, April 9, 2013

NAB 2013: AM Radio Center Of Attention

From Scott Fybush, NERW Blog:
Scott Fybush
NAB leaders say they can’t remember the last time a sitting FCC commissioner moderated a panel, but there was commissioner Ajit Pai on Monday afternoon, speaking to a jam-packed room about the prospects for revitalizing AM radio in the face of trends that strongly favor FM and drawing big rounds of applause every time he spoke of his own love of AM radio and his hope to save the medium, not to mention a standing ovation at the end. 
Can this medium be saved? There’s plenty of enthusiasm on display, but rather less agreement about how to go about the task. 
“Usually you guys say stuff that is predictable.” 
That’s prominent DC lawyer John Garziglia, explaining why he wasn’t initially paying much attention last fall when Pai addressed the NAB Radio Show. But Pai wasn’t predictable, calling for an intense focus on eliminating regulations that hinder the future of AM radio and investigating ways the FCC might help bolster the revitalization of the senior medium. 
Staking out one flank, unsurprisingly, is CBS Radio director of engineering Glynn Walden, who argues that the inherent inefficiency of analog AM radio makes an all-digital world the only future for AM. While Pai publicly broached the prospect of moving AM stations to FM operations on the 76-88 MHz spectrum now occupied by TV channels 5 and 6 (the first time we can recall an FCC commissioner openly discussing the prospect), Walden says that’s a non-starter: “The FCC doesn’t give away spectrum, they auction it.”
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Commissioner Pai's opening remarks follow:

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