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Members of Congress Share Concern About Geo-Targeting Proposal

Technology could lead radio broadcasters to “exclude rural areas,” 13 Republicans say

Rep. Jeff Duncan

Rep.  Jeff Duncan and 12 other Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee have penned a letter to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel voicing concerns regarding GeoBroadcast Solutions’ geo-targeting proposal. If approved by the commission it would permit FM stations to geotarget some content by utilizing a system of specialized FM boosters.

That ability to selectively serve certain communities could lead broadcasters to exclude rural areas, the letter argues.

“The FM booster stations proposal before the FCC could have negative implications for many of our constituents in rural communities who rely on locally focused broadcast radio for news, emergency information, and entertainment.” 

The letter continues: “We urge the FCC to consider the implications the ZoneCasting proposal could have on rural communities and the risks it especially poses for people in areas with little access to broadband.”

GeoBroadcast Solutions (GBS) is asking the FCC to change its rules for FM boosters to allow them to generate original content. If approved, ZoneCasting would allow FM stations to use a few minutes of each broadcast hour to air unique, targeted programming on booster signals. 

Duncan serves on the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, which has oversight of the FCC.  

“As we have seen from Hurricane Ian, broadcast radio is essential for many rural communities that rely heavily on local radio, and the FCC’s proposal to selectively target certain geographic areas could inhibit these communities from receiving essential information and having access to broadcast radio,” the group of representatives state in the letter.

“We ask for assurance that you will take these concerns seriously for the sake of the communities we serve, and not take any action that risks our constituents’ access to free, local radio or degrades the public’s access to essential information.”

The letter is the latest in a series of back-and-forth statements from elected officials and others who have come out for and against the GBS proposal.

[Read more recent coverage of the geo-targeting debate.]