FCC’s Gomez Talks Regulation, AM, and EAS In Keynote Address


    “I learned the perspectives of the regulated firsthand. I understand that the right level of regulation reflects the circumstances before us and specific facts matter a lot.” Those words from FCC Commissioner Anna Gomez, in an address to Hispanic broadcasters on Wednesday.

    Commissioner Gomez delivered the opening keynote on a rousing first day of Radio Ink‘s Hispanic Radio Conference 2024. She was brought to the stage by Spanish Broadcasting System CEO and President Raúl Alarcón, who said, “The person that I’m going to introduce is our future…We have not had an FCC commissioner of Hispanic descent for over 20 years…So this is a watershed moment – for her, for us as an industry, and as a people.”

    The Commissioner began her keynote address by sharing her background, including more than 30 years of public and private sector experience in telecommunications with the FCC’s Cable Bureau and International Bureau, as well as leadership positions at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the First Responder Network Authority.

    Gomez explained her past to say, “Until last September, however, I was largely an observer of, not a participant in, the Commission’s laws and policies that impact broadcasters. In this role, it is incumbent upon me to get smart about the industry then. And I’ve prioritized learning about what issues matter in the broadcasting industry since I was sworn in to be a Commissioner.”

    So what has she learned about radio in that time?

    The Commissioner noted the crucial role she sees radio stations play within their communities by establishing a connection through trusted, local voices that inform and entertain. She stressed the importance of trust in journalism and local broadcasting’s unique ability to maintain community ties.

    Commissioner Gomez has been particularly impressed by the innovation aimed at engaging existing audiences and attracting new listeners. In the face of digital competition transforming how broadcasters interact with and serve their communities, she emphasized offering services and connections that broader, non-local entities cannot replicate.

    Another point of passion for the Commissioner is focusing on consumer education about media literacy to combat misinformation, underscoring her commitment to enhancing public understanding of media content.

    But it has been a tumultuous period for the FCC when it comes to radio. While many in the industry expected AM/FM to be on Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel’s back burner, the frequency and speed of regulations and actions taken concerning radio have led to surprise and concern. While not addressing the most recent movements on AI or the FM duplication rule change, Commissioner Gomez did address two key issues to radio.

    First, she briefly discussed the FCC’s proposed rule that would mandate EAS participants expand to include prerecorded audio files in the 13 most common non-English languages spoken in the US, including Spanish.

    “We’re in the comment process,” said Gomez. “One of the big issues is there’s concerns about implementation. So the more we can hear about how to make this possible, because one of the things that I’m always raising is, okay, great, we’re languages as well because we don’t have a monolithic public who only hears with one in English.

    As for the AM for Every Vehicle Act, which would mandate AM radio as a safety feature in all cars made or sold in the US, Commissioner Gomez ended the keynote by voicing her support. “I have very high hopes for the future of AM radio. I mean, in all seriousness, it’s such an important resource to the community every day, but also especially at times of emergency. So, hoping for the best.”


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