A clear-channel station is an AM radio station in North America that has the highest protection from interference from other stations, particularly concerning night-time skywave propagation. The system exists to ensure the viability of cross-country or cross-continent radio service, and is enforced through a series of treaties and statutory laws. Now known as Class A stations since 1982, they are occasionally still referred to by their former classifications of Class I-A (the highest classification), Class I-B (the next highest class), or Class I-N (for stations in Alaska too far away to cause interference to the primary clear-channel stations in the lower 48 states). The term "clear-channel" is used most often in the context of North America and the Caribbean, where the concept originated.
Since 1941, these stations have been required to maintain at least 10,000 watts of power to retain their status. Nearly all these stations in the United States, Canada and The Bahamas broadcast at 50,000 watts, with several clear-channel stations in Mexico going as high as 150,000 watts and XEW in Mexico City operating at 250,000 watts for over 80 years. (Cuba was originally included in the plan and had several stations given clear-channel status, but Cuba stopped participating after 1959.)