GeoBroadcast Solutions

Zonecasting – the proposal by GeoBroadcast Solutions to allow FM boosters to originate limited amounts of programming different than their primary station – has advanced at the FCC though the release this week of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking formally asking if the FCC should adopt rules permitting this service and, if so, what those rules should be.  We wrote about the initial proposal earlier this year when it was first received by the FCC.  The proposal would allow an FM broadcaster to use an FM booster to geo-target ads and news to different parts of its service area by putting this different information (up to 5% of a station’s hourly programming) on a booster.  So, for instance, a station could be running an ad for a car dealer in one part of its market on its main station and originate an ad for a different local dealer in another part of the market by originating that programming on a booster – with both ads running at the same time.  This week’s NPRM asks numerous questions on many aspects of the proposal.

These questions generally center in three very general areas.  First, the FCC asks about the technical issues (would the service cause interference as boosters operate within the primary station’s 1 mv/m service area and operate on the same channel as the primary station – and would this system work with HD radio operations). Second, it asks about the operational issues (questions about how much origination should be allowed, what kinds of programming could be originated, how many different boosters should be allowed for each main station, and how the service would be rolled it out).  Finally, it asks about business and policy questions (including whether this is really a good thing for the industry and its economics).  We will provide a little more color on each of these areas below, but first it is worth mentioning the FCC’s treatment of a comment that was filed when this proposal was first advanced – seeking to expand this proposal to cover translators as well as boosters (see our article here on that proposal).
Continue Reading FCC Starts Rulemaking on Possible Adoption of GeoBroadcast Solutions Zonecasting Proposal to Allow FM Boosters to Originate Limited Amounts of Programming

It has been a busy week for regulatory actions affecting broadcasters.  Here are some of the significant developments of the last week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC held a virtual Open Meeting on Tuesday, voting to approve an

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?