FCC Denies NAB, Sides With GeoBroadcast


The fight continues over technology from GeoBroadcast Solutions that, if approved by the FCC, would allow some FM boosters to geo-target programming and advertising.

GeoBroadcast says the new technology would enable the radio industry to finally join other media in the 21st Century enabling more targeted content and advertising to reach specific local audiences. Last year the FCC approved testing the technology at KSJO-FM 92.3 in San Jose and at WRBJ-FM in Jackson.

Here’s the history on the filing deadlines at The Commission. On April 18, 2022, the Media Bureau released a public notice seeking public comment on test reports and other filings submitted after the March 12, 2021, close of the comment period on this issue. The public notice set deadlines for filing comments and reply comments at 30 and 45 days, respectively, after publication of the public notice in the Federal Register. The public notice was published in the Federal Register on May 5, 2022. The Bureau released an additional public notice on that date announcing the comment date of June 6, 2022, and the reply comment date of June 21, 2022.

The NAB requested to additional weeks to analyze the tests. Several radio companies, and The NAB, have come out in opposition to the rule change request. They say the limited testing done on the service gives them concern about possible interference, and, if the rule change is approved, it “would fundamentally alter the radio industry’s business model, drive down advertising revenues and complicate the purchasing of radio advertising.”

In response to the request for an extension, GeoBroadcast commented that the test report it filed on March 30, 2022, provided plenty of time for the public to analyze those test results.

The Commission agreed with GeoBroadcast and denied the joint request by the NAB and NPR. “We find NPR and NAB have not shown good cause in the Extension Request for extending the comment deadlines. It is the Commission’s general policy that requests for extension of time will not be routinely granted. We agree with GeoBroadcast that the public interest will be best served by expeditious review of the GeoBroadcast test reports and other material in the record.”

NAB Chief Legal Officer Rick Kaplan said the FCC’s extension was both surprising and disappointing, especially since the Commission has provided numerous extensions to GBS totaling over two years in length. “We are not aware of a situation where the FCC has denied such a reasonable request, especially in a technical proceeding where documents were not readily available for examination. NAB sincerely hopes the FCC will read the comments submitted carefully and thoughtfully and not rush to judgment on an issue that presents such significant concerns for the broadcast radio industry.”

The NAB noted that it takes time to review the technical testing reports provided by the stations, and certain information was either missing or misplaced in the Commission’s records. The FCC also goes on to say that GBS made a number of requests for technical facilities that used inconsistent labeling and technical parameters that have made review of the reports complicated.



  1. In my opinion, just another way to impede the listener experience. Online streaming, especially inserting separate commercials in the stream hasn’t quite caught up with the real world. Cut off spots, cut off programming, repetitive content all makes for a terrible way to listen. It would seem that someone would have to pay attention to the entire process to insure that this “money maker” goes off properly, from the separate content to eliminating any confusion when the listener goes from translator “A” to translator “B” content. I can tell you numerous issues with even stations transferring from analog to HD-when the content isn’t synchronized correctly. When the graphics displayed are wrong. (One local station is now displaying its Holiday logo-complete with a wreath.) The industry is not ready to adapt new technology -since it can’t even get current tech correct. How would you price it anyway? You can’t charge a client full CPM when the signal he’s on doesn’t reach the full audience. Would a percentage work? What’s the percentage? In theory it’s great. In practicality it seems waaay to complicated to have any chance at success in the real world. Explain that to your GSM.

  2. Tom I disagree for Rural Markets with small high schools it could provide a chance for additional sports coverage. It will allow an ability for terrestrial radio to compete with digital.

    • Not really needed if you stream. I have a B-1 that covers two rural counties, and a Class A some 30 miles away (Pleasants and Ritchie, if you are the Tom I know). Normally we cover our hometown high school, and fill in with games from the other county high school. Come tournament time, usually one school is up, the other down–we follow the school with the better record. This year both schools in contention. So–we broadcast the games of that other school on the Class A with no local coverage. Sold very well–because many people listened to our stream.
      We’ve operated a booster for years, so very aware of the technical limitations.

    • IF one reads the filings (now THERE’s a thought … read before commenting) one might note that the proposal isn’t for completely breaking away the programming foe program length events (sports broadcasts) but rather to allow localize sot insertions.

      But then again, the comments do serve to show a desire to pervert the intent of the filing. And here I thought those broadcast one game in the left channel of your FM signal and the other in the right channel folks already had a solution.)

  3. GeoBroadcast is a scam aimed directly at the ranks of general managers who came up through sales without ever working in programming or listening to the engineering side.
    So your station spends a lot of money on fancy equipment to synchronize these signals –so you can sell advertising to a tiny pocket of the market. Only to find out you can’t get the rates you normally get for a metro-wide signal–because the advertisers either aren’t that interested in your tiny audience sliver–or the new advertisers in your geobroadcast ghetto don’t have the money.
    Never mind that FM signals constantly very in strength because of weather and other factors, so the engineers need to constantly tinker to tamp down interference to your main signal.

    • Sir – with all due respect, I think you have a severe misunderstanding of what the technology may be able to provide broadcasters and advertisers. The tech is iron clad in preventing interference, and allows broadcasters and advertisers infinitely more flexibility. If the model was going to harm broadcasters, there would be no business model for it.

      • Chuck, Mr. Taggart is correct in his thinking. One only has to travel around SoCal and hear no less than 3 signals on 103.3 in our town. 2 translators and one 105kw blowtorch screaming across the Pacific. Then we have a south county based sports FM with 2 “boosters” in the north, which switch back and forth constantly. When you suggest not “harming broadcasters” you can look at HD and the effect it has on adjacent channel stations. That sideband hash is no picnic. I can reference several occasions where a stations HD didn’t sync up with the analog channel, creating a most irritating experience when the programming “hiccups” as the receiver switches from HD to analog. Let’s throw in another method of mucking up the airwaves by giving the listener the chance to either hear a car dealer spot-or moving into the “geo-fenced” area-one for the local dry cleaner, or the luck of switching back and forth. Yes, Mr. Taggart’s also carry a lot of weight. This idea doesn’t sound like it can end well.


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