On May 5, 2022, the FCC published in the Federal Register a Media Bureau Notice seeking to refresh the record on a December 1, 2020 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) that sought comment on whether to modify the FCC’s rules governing the operation of FM booster stations in limited circumstances to allow for geo-targeted content. The NPRM was issued in response to a petition from GeoBroadcast Solutions, seeking to allow FM booster stations to transmit original content for a limited period of time during the broadcast hour. The FCC sought comment on:
- Technical issues, including whether permitting FM boosters to transmit original geo-targeted content may result in self-interference that would be disruptive to listeners, whether there are alternatives to GeoBroadcast Solutions’ proposal, and other conforming changes to the FCC’s rules that should be considered.
- Whether to require programming originated by the FM booster station to be “substantially similar” to the primary station’s programming, and how to define the term.
- Potential public interest implications if FM boosters were permitted to transmit original geotargeted content, including the impact on localism, diversity, and competition in the media marketplace and attendant costs and benefits.
- The effect of the proposal on small entities and alternatives that would minimize the burdens on small entities.
The comment period on the NPRM closed on March 12, 2021. Since then, GeoBroadcast Solutions sought, and was granted, experimental authority to test the technology in San Jose, California with station KSJO(FM) and in Jackson, Mississippi with WRBJ-FM. GeoBroadcast Solutions was required to file detailed technical discussions about its technology, its compatibility with the Emergency Alert System, and impact on digital FM broadcasts, which were not available at the time comments closed on the NPRM. In light of these updates, the Media Bureau seeks comment on the test reports and other documents filed in the proceeding since the comment period closed.
Comments are due on or before June 6, 2022.
Reply Comments are due on or before June 21, 2022.
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