Comments on the proposal of GeoBroadcast Solutions to allow FM boosters to originate limited amounts of programming different from that carried on their primary stations were due to be filed by this past Monday. We wrote about the GeoBroadcast proposal for “zonecasting” here. The comments as filed at the FCC fell principally into three categories. GeoBroadcast Solutions and its supporters argued that the FCC should move forward with the limited rule changes that it seeks, changing the FM booster rules from requiring 100% duplication of the primary station to one which only requires substantial duplication of the main station – thus allowing for limited inserts of localized content including localized news, advertising and emergency information. A second set of comments asked whether the technology had really moved forward sufficiently to warrant a notice of proposed rulemaking now – particularly as the system had not yet been fully tested for digital broadcast operations (commonly referred to as “HD Radio”). Finally, there were proposals looking to expand the scope of the proceeding beyond GeoBroadcast’s limited technical proposal, to allow for other systems to provide the service and even to expand the proposal to also allow FM translators to originate programming. Let’s look at each of these sets of comments.
Those supporting the GeoBroadcast proposal covered both the technology and business/operational aspects of the proposal. Comments by GeoBroadcast’s engineer and the GatesAir, Inc., which developed the MaxxCasting technology for boosters to minimize interference between the boosters and their primary station, argued that the technology already works for analog broadcasts and was promising for HD Radio operations. Support for the business case came from advocates for minority organizations (arguing that the technology would allow better targeting of these audiences), media brokers (arguing that the value of stations would increase), ad buyers (looking at the targeting prospects of the technology) and emergency communications experts (looking at the ability to target emergency information).
Continue Reading Looking at the Comments on FM “Zonecasting” – What’s Next for This Proposal?