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.