On May 15, iHeartMedia met with the FCC Media Bureau to discuss the current plan to revitalize AM Radio and to discuss an ex parte letter describing possible changes to AM radio stations. The plan in place will reduce skywave interference protection which make it easier for AM radio stations to operate and give users more flexibility.
Jeff Littlejohn of EVP/Engineering and Systems Integration told FCC Media Bureau Chiefs present at the meeting that reducing the skywave interference protection could potentially cause more than 600,000 listeners to lose service.
“Class A stations drive listening with quality and expensive full service programming content, such as significant news production and sports programming combined with reliable coverage and that loss of listeners beyond their local metros would “undercut” their ability to provide that programming,” Littlejohn said.
Littlejohn also noted trial runs are showcasing an increase in interference and that less than 3 percent of all radios are capable of receiving digital signals that the new AM revitalization plan requires.
“The potential impact of increasing signal interference on listening, noting that AM has already lost listeners to FM due to electronic interference and that reducing Class A coverage would expose more listeners to interference like the bass-tone “beat” frequency hum experienced when Class D stations do not sign off at night,” Littlejohn added.
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