FCC’s Digital Radio Boost Proposal: One Week Left to Comment.

The Federal Communications Commission is five days away from closing all replies on its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) aimed at enhancing digital radio’s over-the-air reach. Interested parties have through Friday, October 6 to submit reply comments referencing MB Docket No. 22-405. The NPRM addresses two key proposals that could significantly impact the radio industry: (a) revising the methodology for calculating permissible digital power levels for FM and low-power FM stations; and (b) allowing FM stations to operate their digital sidebands at varying power levels, providing greater flexibility and potentially enhancing signal quality. These proposals could further boost the digital radio landscape by improving signal quality and reach. More than 2,000 FM stations in the US currently broadcast digitally, offering enriched audio and additional information like song details. The proposals have garnered support from major radio players like Xperi, the company behind HD Radio, and the National Association of Broadcasters. However, some broadcasters believe the FCC could go even further. For instance, Mount Wilson FM Broadcasters argues that the proposed approach for superpowered FM stations is too restrictive. Cumulus Media suggests the FCC maintain a database for listener complaints to better address potential interference issues.