Released in early August, the Commission’s Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposes to change the way FM stations determine their maximum permissible power level and, further, to give FM stations the authority to operate their digital sidebands at different power levels. According to the FCC, these changes would potentially expand the number of FM stations that can broadcast at higher digital power levels, while also giving them greater flexibility to maximize power while avoiding interference.
The Commission Order and NPRM were originally prompted by two petitions filed with the Commission, the first in 2019 by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), Xperi Corporation, and National Public Radio, and the second in 2022 by the NAB and Xperi.
The FCC says that there are currently over 2000 FM stations that broadcast digitally, providing listeners with enhanced sound quality and other data through digital signals. If the FCC’s Order and NPRM are adopted, the Commission says that the changes would potentially encourage more FM broadcasters to adopt digital technologies, thereby making digital broadcasts available to a greater number of listeners.