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Tech Company Asks FCC to Allow Geo-Targeted Radio Programming

GeoBroadcast Solutions files petition based on its Zonecasting technology

GeoBroadcast Solutions, a Chicago-based technology company, formally has asked the FCC to allow U.S. radio broadcasters to air geo-targeted programming on a voluntary basis.

“Radio is currently the only mass medium that cannot geo-target its content,” the company stated in an announcement. “The ability to add localized weather and traffic, news, emergency alerts, and advertising is beneficial to listeners, small businesses, and advertisers and would allow the industry to progress and remain competitive in the market.”

The firm makes a technology called ZoneCasting that uses FM boosters to distribute distinct content. It cited data from BIA Advisory Services and Advertiser Perceptions suggesting that advertisers would spend more money in FM radio if geo-targeting is available.

[Read RW’s 2013 story “ZoneCasting Offers New Techniques in Localized Broadcasting”]

“The rule GeoBroadcast seeks to change relates to FM boosters, and no changes to the FCC’s rules regarding translators or interference are necessary,” it stated. “The new rule would be similar to the 2017 FCC decision that allowed television broadcasters to use the Next Generation TV standard — also known as ATSC 3.0 − and distribute geo-targeted programming.”

It said its geo-targeting technology relies on existing receivers that are synchronized with FM booster stations and originate localized content and insert it at specific and limited times, while otherwise retransmitting a primary station’s signal. “This technology, which would be optional for broadcasters, does not impact interference between neighboring stations and does not cause harmful self-interference.”

GBS said it proposes to revise 47 Code of Federal Regulation §74.1231 by adding the following: “The programming aired on the FM broadcast booster station must be ‘substantially similar’ to that aired by its primary station. For purposes of this section, ‘substantially similar’ means that the programming must be the same except for advertisements, promotions for upcoming programs, and enhanced capabilities including hyper-localized content (e.g., geo-targeted weather, targeted emergency alerts, and hyper-local news).”