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FCC Takes Comments On Pre-Sunrise Rules Change

April 7, 2010: The FCC is accepting comments on a proposal to change the pre-sunrise service authorization rules to let class B and D AM stations begin broadcasting at up to 500 watts at 5 a.m. The current rules allow such stations to begin the day at 6 a.m., regardless of the time the sun actually rises.

A petition for rulemaking from New Jersey-based engineer Richard Arsenault notes in that most morning drive broadcasts on radio, TV, and cable begin at 5. Arsenault writes, "The 5:00 a.m. first hour 'morning drive' programming is geared to a significant portion of the public that start their day prior to 6:00 a.m. due to extended commuting times and/or early occupational clock-in requirements."

Arsenault also says restricting pre-sunrise service until after 6 a.m. disproportionately affects smaller communities that have limited local radio choices. He continues, "This problem is magnified with consideration that 'morning drive' is the most important time slot for many stations, the time when radio listenership is maximized and of greatest importance and service to the general public."

The 30-day comment period on the petition began March 26.

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