As we reported just a couple of weeks ago, the last element of the AM Revitalization rulemaking that had not yet taken effect was Section 73.1560 (along with the related Form 338, a/k/a the AM Station Modulation Dependent Carrier Level (MDCL) Notification Form), which still awaited OMB approval. No longer. The FCC has announced that the OMB gave the thumbs up on January 19. This means that, as of March 3, 2016, AM stations wishing to use MDCL control technologies will be able to do so without prior Commission authority, provided that they notify the Commission on Form 338 within 10 days after beginning MDCL operation.
What’s MDCL? It generally refers to transmitter-control technology which has been in use internationally for some time, mainly by high-powered AM stations. As best as we can decipher things – there’s a reason that we went to law school, after all – MDCL gear senses a station’s modulation levels on a continual basis and automatically adjusts transmitter power down (and up again) depending on modulation. With increases both in energy costs and in the ease of implementing MDCL algorithms, use of such technology has become more attractive in the U.S.
AM stations have been permitted to use MDCL since 2011, but only with prior Commission approval. During that time, 33 permanent waivers and 20 experimental authorizations have been granted. The stations using MDCL have reported “significant” electrical power cost savings with few, if any, perceptible effects on station coverage area and audio quality. Now that prior approval will no longer be required, the smart money figures that more stations will be jumping on the MDCL bandwagon.
And on another AM Revitalization front, according to Commissioner Pai, over 400 applications were filed by AM licensees looking to get themselves a translator on the first day of the open window for such applications.