There's good news for hundreds of Class A FM stations. From now until August 18th, the FCC will be soliciting comments regarding the creation of a new classification of radio station. The new "Class C4" allocation would give a little over 30% of Zone II Class A FM radio stations a potential opportunity to increase their maximum effective radiated power levels from 6,000 Watts to 12,000 Watts. The proposal would also expand conditions upon which 73.215 of the Commission's Rules could be employed.
Interested parties should file comments in the rulemaking proceeding, officially designated as RM-11727, at the Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System within the next few weeks: (click on "Submit a Filing" and enter Proceeding Number RM-11727 when doing so)
There are critics of the proposal, most of whom are not station owners, who believe that a boost from 6,000 Watts to 12,000 Watts will add little noticeable coverage. They claim that an extra three miles added to a station's service contour is hardly worth the effort and expense. Station owners of eligible Class A FMs, however, are almost uniformly supportive of the idea, and would gladly take on added "effort and expense" to stay competitive in an increasingly crowded radio dial.
Apart from the obvious coverage improvements (without adding interference to other existing stations) and added potential listeners as a result of this plan, one need only consider the massive economic impact that would arise from hundreds of Class A FM stations upgrading to a Class C4 status. FCC attorneys, engineering consultants, tower fabricators, transmitter and antenna manufacturers, et cetera, would be busy for years to come.
Recently, 140 broadcasters representing over 630 total stations signed an online petition (http://www.wyab.com/petition/) to the FCC requesting that the Commission open up this proposal for formal comment. Now, we get our wish. In an environment where broadcast issues do not often rise to the top of the Commission's priority list, it is critically important for supporters of this proposal to voice their opinions and submit comments within this proceeding.
We may not get another chance at this.
Matthew Wesolowski is the general manager of WYAB 103.9 FM/Flora, MS.
He can be contacted at: 601-201-2789 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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