Mark your calendars: reconsideration or review must be sought by May 10

Back at the end of January, the Media Bureau announced that it was amending the rules to give a leg up to HD Radio. Now, more than two months later, the Bureau’s Order has been published in the Federal Register. This starts the 30-day clock for anyone seeking reconsideration or review of the revised rules. Petitions for reconsideration or applications for review are due no later than Monday, May 10, 2010.

As we reported back when the January Order was released, the new rules will allow dramatic increases in operating power for IBOC digital FM service: most stations will be allowed to increase their digital power by 6 dB upon a simple notification to the Commission, and increases up to 10 dB over current levels may be possible for many stations. The January Order also adopted a detailed complaint process, although that process is not particularly user-friendly and may not be all that a potential victim of interference would have hoped. 

While Federal Register publication starts the recon clock, it does not mean that the new rules are now effective, nor does it tell us precisely when the rules will become effective. Because of the intricacies of the Paperwork Reduction Act, the new rules require approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The rules cannot become effective until the later of (a) 30 days after Federal Register publication of the Order (i.e., by May 10), or (b) when the new rules have been approved by OMB and notice of that approval has been published in the Federal Register. Although the Commission has submitted its request for approval to OMB, OMB has its own separate comment period which will not wrap up until May 4. It’s anybody’s guess as to how long OMB approval may take – sometimes OMB acts quickly, other times not so much.

In the meantime, however, the Media Bureau continues to accept requests for STA to increase digital power. If you’re interested in seeking such an STA, check out the guide the Bureau has provided for that purpose.