[AMRadio] The Future Of AM Broadcast Radio + 1

Donald Chester k4kyv at charter.net
Thu Feb 25 12:12:35 EST 2016

Jim W5JO  wrote:

> Some of the SW BC stations have turned in their license and have gone to
> streaming.  3 phase 480 is not cheap for a 10 KW station, nor is
> for the TX and associated equipment.

I wonder how many of them have enough listeners to justify the expense of
transmitting.  Unless they have recently changed the rules, the minimum
legal power for a private SWBC station in the US is 50 kilowatts, and that's
a very substantial power bill.  Some of the religious broadcasters, who seem
to dominate SW broadcasting in the US these days, can probably continue to
thrive on donations, but the rest are probably operating on a highly frayed
shoestring. I suspect WBCQ is more like an expensive hobby for Allan Weiner
than a money-maker.

It's a lot cheaper to stream a program over the internet than to transmit an
RF signal, but a problem with streaming is that it isn't treated the same as
radio broadcasting by copyright laws and royalty regulations.  Many BC
stations have recently turned off their streams because of the heavy expense
of royalty fees they have to pay for each piece of music they play, saying
it just isn't worth it.

Another long-time broadcasting service that is falling by the wayside is
longwave AM broadcasting in Europe and other parts of the world.  I
understand the 500 KW BBC transmitter at Droitwich may shut down permanently
as soon as their current stock of final tubes is exhausted.  (You may have
to copy/paste the following url)

 Back around 1980, a high power longwave  station in Sweden that had a
multi-array of 1000-ft towers, reportedly took a survey and found they had
only a couple of  hundred regular listeners, so that  station closed, deemed
not to be  cost-effective.

One bright spot for hams, with the demise of international short wave
broadcasting, is that we should feel less pressure from broadcasting
interests to commandeer our frequencies at future world radio conferences.
Not that long ago, there was intense pressure, with even some U.S.
government support, to re-allocate 3950-4000 kHz to broadcasting in this
hemisphere.  Now, there is open space to be found during the evening in
7200-7300, and night-time amateur QSOs can be heard regularly with minimal
BC interference.

Don k4kyv

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