Publication of the FCC's Second Report and Order in the Federal
Register on Aug. 16 means that the long-awaited IBOC digital radio rule
changes will become the law of the land on Sept. 14.
Among the most controversial new provisions will be the green
light for 24-hour HD Radio hybrid operation on AM. Critics of
Ibiquity's implementation of AM IBOC digital transmission have charged
that many stations currently serving a significant audience within
secondary nighttime coverage areas will lose that service area to
digitally generated adjacent-channel interference. In a separate but
related move announced just this week, the FCC appears to be addressing
AM owner coverage anxieties by tendering an NPRM that would grant new
FM repeater privileges to eligible AM licensees.
Among other key provisions set to go into effect include the
right for FMs to commence HD Radio multicasting without experimental
authority grants and use of separate FM antennas for HD Radio hybrid
operation without STAs.
Other matters, such as specific public service requirements,
limitations on and regulatory fee assessments for digital subscription
services, and what role multicasting will play in any new ownership
equation remain to be addressed by future rulemaking.