FCC Releases First FM Geo-Targeting Compliance Guide


With this week’s start of the authorization for experimental FM geo-targeting services on booster stations, the FCC has released its Small Entity Compliance Guide for the process. The guide details key rules and their implications for full and low-power FM broadcasters.

Starting May 16, licensed FM stations can apply for experimental authority to originate programming on up to 25 FM booster stations for up to one year. This period may be extended if the FCC has not established final service rules for these boosters by the end of the experimental phase.

According to the FCC’s authorization, a program originating booster station is defined as an FM broadcast booster station that primarily retransmits signals from an FM radio broadcast station or a low-power FM broadcast station. However, it may replace the content of the incoming signal with its own programming for a period not exceeding three minutes of each broadcast hour.

This rule stipulates a strict hourly limit that cannot be aggregated from unused minutes in previous hours.

The rule changes include new requirements for program originating boosters under the Emergency Alert System, making them responsible for receiving and broadcasting all emergency alerts in the same manner as their primary FM station. Specific requirements include an EAS Encoder and Decoder for boosters associated with analog or digital FM stations and an EAS Decoder and the capability to transmit an Audio EAS message for boosters associated with analog or digital LPFM stations.

As for one of geo-targeting’s main concerns, the new rules specify that a program originating FM booster station may cause limited interference to its primary station’s signal but sets clear boundaries. A properly synchronized program originating FM booster station transmitting different programming than the primary station is not considered to cause interference to its primary station solely because of the differences in originated programming.

More rules and details are found in the full FCC geo-targeting compliance guide.

Petitions for reconsideration of the Report and Order, as well as comments on the FCC’s proposals for processing, licensing, and service rules for permanent FM booster program origination, are also due on May 16. Reply comments are due by June 17.


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