October 27, 2020, The FCC adopted a Report and Order that allows AM radio stations to operate using all-digital broadcast signals. AM broadcasters will be able to voluntarily choose whether and when to convert to all-digital operation from their current analog or hybrid analog/digital signals.
All-digital broadcasting offers AM listeners significantly improved audio quality and more reliable coverage over a wider listenable area than analog or hybrid digital broadcasts. It also allows broadcasters to provide additional services to the public, such as song title and artist information. These enhancements will enable AM broadcasters to better compete in today’s media marketplace.
Today’s Order establishes technical rules to protect existing AM broadcast stations from interference. In addition, stations converting to all-digital operation will be required to notify the Commission and the public 30 days in advance of their transition. These stations must provide at least one free over-the-air digital programming stream that is comparable to or better in audio quality than a standard analog broadcast. They also must continue to participate in the Emergency Alert System. The Order envisions that AM broadcasters will decide whether to convert to all-digital operation based on the conditions in their respective markets.
MB Docket Nos. 19-311, 13-249