Mignon Clyburn

Efforts to include an FM translator filing window as part of the FCC’s pending AM Revitalization Order were dealt a setback after a change of heart by the commissioner who first proposed the idea. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn now says she’s not in favor of the window, at least not now.

“While it is not my practice to speak publicly about matters on circulation at the commission, the tone and substance of the discussions surrounding the AM Revitalization Window item proposed during my tenure as interim chair are both incendiary and misleading,” Clyburn said in a statement issued Thursday. Because of the FCC’s upcoming spectrum auction, Clyburn said opening an AM-only window now “would not provide timely relief to AM broadcasters, particularly small and low-power AM broadcasters, who would have to wait until 2017 to take advantage of this relief.” Clyburn said she still believes that an AM-only window is “sound policy,” but revisiting the idea closer to the TV incentive auction would make the relief to AM broadcasters effective. Instead, she’s backing chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal for a pre-approved waiver to allow the relocation of FM translators up to 250 miles, which “would provide immediate relief” to AM broadcasters, she said. It would be open first to Class C and D stations, which Clyburn said “are smallest and in most urgent need of relief.” After that Clyburn said the waiver would be extended to Class A and B stations.

Speaking on a panel Thursday at the Radio Show, FCC Audio Division chief Peter Doyle also defended the 250-mile waiver saying it would provide much needed relief to AM broadcasters faster than an AM-only filing window.