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Alta Communications Backs Geotargeting

GBS points to support from a board member of Urban One

Alta Communications, a private equity company, is expressing support for geotargeting.

Technology company GeoBroadcast Solutions is calling attention to that, because Alta’s president and managing general partner, Brian McNeill, is also a longtime board member of Urban One.

A GBS spokesman wrote in an email that the letter “demonstrates the Urban One Board does not wholly agree with the position of its CEO Alfred Liggins and, in fact, sees promise in the geotargeting technology.” Liggins has expressed opposition to the technology.

GBS and its supporters have said that its technology would benefit minority-owned broadcasters and advertisers, among others, so the position of Urban One leadership on the issue a notable one.

“Though I do not know the details of Zonecasting,” McNeill wrote to the FCC, “I am very enthusiastic about the possibility for radio stations to run content simultaneously. … If a retailer can now buy commercials that specifically target the areas in which their customers come from, I would think that the likelihood of their ad campaigns being successful would be greatly increased.”

But Urban One wrote in an earlier ex parte filing with the commission, “Urban One’s view is that minority businesses or other businesses advertising on Radio One stations do not face a barrier in reaching a broader audience.”

The FCC would have to approve a rule change for FM stations in the United States to use the GBS technology, which involves synchronized booster signals. Debate over the proposal has been playing out through a series of press releases and FCC filings from GBS and its supporters, including some smaller broadcasters, on the one hand, and the National Association of Broadcasters and many larger radio groups on the other.

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