STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER AJIT PAI
Revitalization of the AM Radio Service
, MB Docket No. 13-249.
This is a great day.
It’s been over two decades since we last comprehensively reviewed our AM radio rules. Over
that time, the AM band has struggled. Interference problems, declining listenership, and other factors
have brought the band low. But millions of Americans—myself included—still rely on and believe in
AM radio. So last September, I proposed that the FCC launch an AM radio revitalization initiative.1
Today, we are doing just that. This Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) kicks off a
landmark effort by the Commission to energize the nation’s oldest broadcasting service, and I am excited
to support it.
The NPRM embraces a sensible two-stage strategy for improving AM radio service. First
propose several ways to give AM broadcasters relief in the short term. For instance, we suggest
eliminating the ratchet rule. We tee up modifications to the daytime and nighttime community coverage
rules for existing AM stations. Perhaps most importantly, we seek public input on letting AM stations
apply for new FM translators. I’m the first to acknowledge that these and other proposals will not be an
immediate panacea for the difficulties confronting the AM band. But based on the conversations I have
had with AM broadcasters across the country during the past year, I am convinced that they can make a
substantial, positive difference to numerous AM stations.
, we also invite the American public to share their proposals for the long-term future of the
AM band. What steps can the Commission take so that there will be a vibrant AM radio service ten or
fifteen years from now? I hope broadcasters, engineers, and anyone else with an interest in AM radio will
submit creative ideas to the Commission.
Many outside and inside the Commission paved the way for today’s accomplishment. Over the
past year, AM broadcasters and listeners across the country have expressed their support for this effort in
many different ways.2 The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council has pressed us for a long
time to reform our AM radio rules; they know that most minority-owned radio stations are on the AM
band and that many AM stations serve ethnic and foreign-language populations. Benjamin Tarbell, my
one-time clerk and then-student at George Washington University Law School, wrote the first draft of this
item. Chairwoman Clyburn’s leadership resulted in the circulation of this item. And this Notice would
not have seen the light of day without the hard work of the staff in the Media Bureau’s Audio Division,
led by Division Chief Peter Doyle and Deputy Chief Jim Bradshaw. I thank everyone who has helped
shepherd this document from conception to adoption and look forward to continuing to collaborate with
them in the time to come.
And now, the fun begins. Let’s get to work revitalizing AM radio.
1 Remarks of Commissioner Ajit Pai Before the Radio Show (Sept. 19, 2012), available at http://go.usa.gov/WTD4
2 See, e
., Statement of Commissioner Ajit Pai on WRDN, Reel Country 1430 AM (June 10, 2013), available at
. I want to express my personal gratitude to the many, many radio broadcasters—too
numerous to list here, but ranging from Washington, DC to Alaska—who have hosted me in their stations;
conducted on-air interviews in person or over the phone; written me emails, letters, and cards; and/or simply given
me the proverbial, and sometimes literal, pat on the back for advocating a cause they had assumed had been