NAB, DRM Spar Over AM Digital for U.S.

The Federal Communications Fee has been hearing from the Nationwide Association of Broadcasters and other intrigued parties about no matter whether to allow for AM band stations to switch on all-digital transmission, and beneath what parameters.

In addition to publicly submitted opinions, the NAB, which supports the plan, has created presentations to FCC staff members about specific details — which include whether or not the FCC should really make it possible for Digital Radio Mondiale to be analyzed in this place. NAB claims it need to not.


It was in November 2019 that the commission announced its proposal to make it possible for AM stations to broadcast an all-digital signal using the Hd in-band on-channel (IBOC) manner recognized as MA3. This arrived soon after a petition from Bryan Broadcasting.

As element of its Observe of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC concluded that a voluntary transition to all-electronic broadcasting has the possible to profit AM stations as nicely as present improved AM service to the community.

The fee then asked for remark on proposed functioning standards and the effects on present analog stations and listeners. We have reported on a lot of of the reviews it obtained.

FCC Audio Division Chief Al Shuldiner instructed Radio Environment in September, “Commenters in that continuing expressed potent sector help for the commission’s proposals to allow for AM stations to transform to all-digital procedure and we hope to go forward in that proceeding by the close of the 12 months.”

Focusing on details, NAB associates spoke in early September with users of the FCC Media Bureau’s Audio Division about the proposed changeover, in accordance to an ex parte filing.

David Layer, NAB’s vice president of superior engineering, gave technological enter on 4 certain matters: operating procedures on electrical power limits, all-electronic AM RF mask specifications, prospective interference concerns, and proposed frequency tolerance standards.

He expressed NAB support for working with normal ability measurements for setting up station working ability for all-electronic support. He explained this is the system that has been utilized in the NAB’s PILOT screening as very well as by Hubbard station WWFD(AM), which operates beneath experimental authority.

Layer cited coverage maps made by PILOT and WWFD that confirmed that these stations have adequate all-electronic coverage with out causing objectionable interference.

He also urged the fee not to impose a 1 Hz frequency tolerance on all AM stations, but agreed that it could be appropriate to impose this tolerance on all-digital AM stations. The NAB supports the use of all-digital AM RF masks as proposed by Hd Radio father or mother company Xperi.

Enable Electronic Radio Mondiale

Meanwhile a different difficulty elevated NAB’s issues.

In June the DRM Consortium participated in a conference connect with with customers of the FCC Media Bureau’s Audio Division to convey to them about DRM’s function as a “superior, adaptable and advanced technological innovation option,” according to Ruxandra Obreja, chair of the DRM Consortium, in a followup letter to the fee.

DRM must have the prospect to be analyzed for U.S. domestic use in the AM bands, Obreja argued.

[Read a commentary by Obreja: “Can Digital Radio Standards Coexist?”]

“Such a examination would let for a correct comparison with Hd in all-electronic AM broadcast and open up the risk of which includes DRM, either by yourself or together with High definition in the proposed regulation, as a complete-electronic transmission standard for the AM bands — with the option for simulcast operation together with analog AM indicators from the same transmitter if essential,” Obreja explained.

“This would also solution the query on the rewards and its attractiveness when as opposed to and launched alongside High definition Radio.”

She highlighted DRM’s spectral performance its means to carry multiple audio companies which include textual content, unexpected emergency warning information and metadata inside of a 10 kHz signal bandwidth and its ability to transmit parallel channels in distinct languages.

DRM also described the added benefits of acquiring a receiver capable to obtain both of those DRM and Hd Radio, as properly as analog AM and FM transmissions for the changeover period of time.

“[The] United states of america would not be the only state in the globe envisaging the use of far more than a person digital radio regular,” Obreja stated. “The specialized alternatives exist for the listener what issues is that they can hear to all the electronic broadcasts readily available in their region by a frequent person interface.”

Noting that AM in the U.S. covers large rural places, she claimed the fast growth of in-automobile adaptors for DRM would offer simple access to digital radio for proprietors of legacy automobiles with only analog AM or High definition Radio reception. Allowing AM stations have obtain to both of those DRM and High definition Radio expert services could deliver significant positive aspects to individuals broadcasters.

Really don’t enable DRM

The NAB experienced a sharp response to the DRM Consortium’s request, calling it unwell-suggested and contrary to the FCC’s intent.

The NAB said the fee currently chosen Hd Radio IBOC as the exceptional digital technology authorized for AM radio, and that earning a modify now be extremely disruptive.

“Although High definition Radio is a experienced and established technology, there will be crucial criteria that will enter into a broadcaster’s decision to changeover these types of as the machines costs to transform, the potential reduction of listeners who do not acquire an Hd Radio receiver, and potentially most importantly, regulatory certainty,” wrote NAB Affiliate Common Counsel Larry Walke in a letter to the commission.

“Before pulling the trigger on these a elementary change to one’s procedure, AM broadcasters will need each individual confidence that Hd Radio technologies will continue to be the distinctive technological remedy for all-digital transmission.”

Any moves to take a look at or normally take into consideration DRM as an alternative engineering would undercut this sort of self-assurance, discourage larger adoption of Hd Radio and jeopardize the viability of all-electronic AM, Walke said, adding that thought of a 2nd digital radio know-how at this juncture could only be unsafe to transitions by AM stations.

Regulatory certainty is very important, Walke concluded, and the FCC’s targets to revitalize AM radio can only be furthered if it stays the course.

The NAB urged the fee to wrap up the offer by eventually incorporating the NRSC-5 in-band/on-channel Electronic Radio System regular into its policies. “This will make it very clear that [this] is 1 and only electronic radio technique authorized for use in the U.S.,” Walke claimed.

Other community remarks on all-electronic for AM can be discovered in the FCC’s ECFS databases applying Media Bureau docket quantities 19-311 and 13-249.


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NPR Supports All-Electronic, With Caveats

Xperi Urges FCC to Permit All-Electronic on AM