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 “zonecastinghere. 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?

Each week, we summarize some of the regulatory and legal actions of the last week significant to broadcasters – both those from the FCC and those taken elsewhere –with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.  Here is this week’s list of significant

In the last few weeks, both on the radio and TV side of the broadcasting house, significant actions have been taken to potentially expand the use of zoned broadcasting to allow broadcasters to better target their audience with programming and advertisements.  For TV, that is the proposed increase in use of distributed transmission systems, about which we will write in another article.  For radio, a petition for rulemaking has been filed by a company called GeoBroadcast Solutions, proposing to use FM boosters to be able to provide such targeted programming within an FM station’s service area.  The FCC last week issued a public notice asking for initial comments on the proposal – and those comments are due by May 4.

The FM zonecasting petition calls for a change in Commission rules that currently require FM boosters to simulcast 100% of the programming from their primary station.  The proposed change in the rules would instead say that FM boosters would have to substantially duplicate the programming of the primary station but would allow commercials, news reports or other short content to be dropped into the programming on a booster that would be different than that programming on the main station. The proposal suggests that this would allow more targeted advertising within a market as well as more targeted news and information (including emergency information) within the market.
Continue Reading FCC Asked to Consider “Zonecasting” for FM Stations – Initial Comments Due May 4