In the Digital Audio Broadcasting Report and Order, we selected in-band, on-channel (“IBOC”) as the technology enabling AM and FM radio broadcast stations to commence digital audio broadcasting (“DAB”).1 In the DAB R&O, we adopted notification procedures allowing existing AM and FM radio stations to begin digital transmissions immediately on an interim basis using the IBOC system developed by iBiquity Digital Corporation (“iBiquity”). We concluded that the adoption of a specific technology would facilitate the development of digital services for terrestrial broadcasters. We deferred consideration of final operational requirements and related broadcast licensing and service rule changes to a future date. In a Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making (“FNPRM”) we addressed issues left unresolved in the DAB R&O and sought comment on what changes and amendments to Part 73 of the Commission’s rules were necessary to facilitate the adoption of DAB.2
Through this proceeding, we seek to foster the development of a vibrant terrestrial digital radio service for the public and to ensure that radio stations successfully implement DAB.3 Our goals in this Second Report and Order are to begin to adopt service rules and other requirements for terrestrial digital radio. However, we find it necessary to ask additional questions, in a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, on how to preserve free over-the-air radio broadcasting while permitting licensees to offer new services on a subscription basis. We also resolve and dispose of several petitions for reconsideration that were filed in response to the DAB R&O.
In summary, the Commission, in this Second Report and Order, First Order on Reconsideration, and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking:
Refrains from imposing a mandatory conversion schedule for radio stations to commence digital broadcast operations;
Applies existing programming and operational statutory and regulatory requirements to all free DAB programming streams, but defers the issue of whether and how to apply any specific new public interest requirements;
Authorizes AM nighttime operations and FM dual antenna configurations;
Considers and addresses other technical matters, such as FM translator and booster operations and TV Channel 6 interference issues;
Defers discussion of whether the Commission should impose content control requirements that would prevent listeners from archiving and redistributing digital musical recordings transmitted by digital broadcast stations;
Recognizes that further negotiations between the United States and the international community are taking place to resolve possible disputes about the implementation and operation of DAB by domestic radio stations;
Dismisses several pending Petitions for Reconsideration and Petitions for Rulemaking that asked, inter alia, the Commission to reconsider the adoption of iBiquity’s IBOC system as the technology chosen for DAB transmission;
Seeks further comment on appropriate limits to the amount of subscription services that may be offered by radio stations.