FCC proposes letting AM stations voluntarily shift to digital broadcasts

Digital radio has been making leaps and bounds around the world, but the U.S. has been slower to adopt the technology. There may be more options to go digital in the future, though as the FCC has officially proposed allowing an option for all-digital AM broadcasting. The department adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking recommending that AM stations have a choice to voluntarily go completely digital.

In the notice, the FCC also suggested creating operating parameters to minimize risk of interference for all-digital stations. It also proposed adopting an industry-approved standard for hybrid and all-digital broadcasting.

The move is a small one compared with the total transitions to digital radio in markets such as Norway. It does pose some challenges to the industry. AM stations that shift to digital will not be able to reach analog-only receivers, meaning listeners would need to have hardware that supports hybrid or digital-only radio.

Anna Washenko