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NJBA Calls ZoneCasting an “Equipment Peddling Scheme”

The group opposes the technology, claims it would cause "unavoidable and unresolvable interference"

The back and forth continues between ZoneCasting advocates and those who believe giving radio broadcasters the ability to geo-target programming and commercials using FM boosters — even for short periods of time — would be detrimental to the industry.

Even members of Congress have recently weighed in with opinions for and against the use of the ZoneCasting technology from GeoBroadcast Solutions (GBS). The New Jersey Broadcasters Association’s (NJBA) opposition to geo-targeting echoes that of the National Association of Broadcasters and a list of companies that includes some of radio’s biggest broadcast groups. 

The proposal currently being considered by the FCC would allow broadcasters to voluntarily utilize FM boosters to air unique, targeted programming on those booster signals for several minutes per broadcast hour. ZoneCasting has been in development by GBS since 2011. 

In recent comments, NJBA contends that permitting ZoneCasting’s operation will have a “negative effect on the clear undisturbed reception of our members’ radio station broadcasts, causing unavoidable and unresolvable interference that will harm our listeners in New Jersey.”

The broadcaster group focuses its comments on how geo-targeting from neighboring states could negatively impact New Jersey radio stations. NJBA said offering “this type of wild west” entry into neighborhoods is a threat to the vast majority of New Jersey’s lower powered, fully licensed stations.

[Related: “ZoneCasting Generates More Contention“]

“Geo-targeting would allow New York’s, as well as other metros like Philadelphia and Allentown, etc., Class B radio stations that broadcast signals over wide swaths of the Garden State’s geography, and its mostly Class A stations, to sell locally targeted advertising in our markets while denying the Class A stations in those markets to reciprocate in New York or other such cities,” NJBA wrote in comments to the FCC.

NJBA points to section 307(b) of the Communications Act that requires the FCC to make “a fair and equitable distribution of radio service.”

“New Jersey ended up with anything but this mandate,” said NJBA.” The damage needs to be contained at some point and now is the time to avoid any further disruption to our local radio broadcasters’ operations. Adding this splintering of new competitors will only further disrupt our industry and derail any hopes of recovery to 2019 levels, while repressing true localism.”

The New Jersey group claims the proprietary ZoneCasting technology if adopted would only “enrich GBS and its supporting equipment manufacturers.” And the group throws shade at those broadcasters who have pitched their support of ZoneCasting.

“It just makes no sense for a cabal of named small broadcasters and minority groups to throw their support behind an equipment peddling scheme absent other undisclosed factors. 

“The FCC should ask each of the Geo Broadcast solutions ZoneCasting proponents if there are any financial or other undisclosed arrangements behind their support, such as donations, promised discounts or other such undisclosed munificence, in exchange for the stated support of the proponents, so that there is full transparency to the support that Geo Broadcast Solutions claims it has,” NJBA commented.

NJBA continued: “To be clear, the NJBA is resolutely opposed to any proposal that advocates boosters being able to originate programming. Period.”

The letter, signed by Paul Rotella, president and CEO of NJBA concludes: “Rather than helping local broadcasting, ZoneCasting could increase listening to out of market stations, again adversely impacting the usefulness of the EAS, while creating new pockets of interference all without any way for the New Jersey Class A broadcasters to oppose this destructive policy.”

[Related: “HD Radio Developer Takes Close Look at ZoneCasting“]