FCC Proposal Could Lead To Sharper Sounding FM Radio And Better Reception





The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to empower FM radio stations with the ability to increase their digital power levels, which could result in better audio and reception indoors. 

The agency released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Tuesday to grant digital FM and Low Power FM stations more flexibility to increase digital power levels. It aims to encourage FM broadcasters to incorporate digital technology into their services to reach a larger audience while offering more efficient operations.

Digital FM radio offers better sound quality than traditional analog service. The actions aim to make digital FM radio available to more listeners as well as improve sound quality and provide song information. Under the proposal , FM stations have a new method to determine their maximum permissible digital power level. 

Over 2,000 FM stations broadcast digitally already. The NPRM aims to expand this listener base to decrease delays between a radio station’s broadcast signal and its corresponding internet stream. 

The end result would be a larger number of FM stations operating at higher digital power levels while enhancing digital signals for reception inside buildings.

“NAB supports the FCC’s preliminary conclusion that adopting these rules changes will enhance digital FM radio service,” NAB’s Senior Vice President of Communications Alex Siciliano said in a statement reported by Radio Online. “We look forward to working with the FCC on the formal adoption of the proposals.”

The NPRM also proposed allowing FM stations to operate their digital sidebands at different power levels. Under these changes, broadcasters can avoid interference from other neighboring stations while having greater flexibility to maximize power. The proposal will “allow a digital FM station to operate with asymmetric power on the digital sidebands.”

The Petitions for Rulemaking were consolidated into one docket. The FCC’s Media Bureau is seeking comments from broadcasters, engineers, and other interested parties to investigate potential risks, related costs, and benefits of adopting the NPRM.

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