The commission’s recent efforts to eliminate regulations that are outdated, unnecessary or burdensome have drawn a lot of comments. One section that some consider due for a makeover is 74.1231, which concerns the use of FM boosters. As it stands, these rules prohibit the use of boosters for anything other than relaying the programming of the primary station. Independent programming is not allowed. But what if it were? That, according to Shainis and Peltzman, Chartered, would have a lot of benefits, both for the station, and its city of license.
The law firm represents numerous FM stations, and believes that allowing FM booster stations to originate programming under certain circumstances will allow them to provide targeted “hyperlocal” programming, thus furthering the commission’s goals concerning localism.
A related benefit is that small businesses would be able to reach out to highly localized audiences in a cost-effective manner. This in turn, would provide financial benefits to the station, small businesses, and the community at large.
Others who have read the comments of Shainis and Peltzman, Chartered agree. Steven A. Silberberg of Northeast Broadcasting Co. in Bedford N.H., notes, “Advertisers would not be forced to spend the dollars required for a full market commercial when the market is bifurcated by either a mountain range or a lake, such as Burlington/Plattsburgh or White River/Rutland.”
In April of 2012, Shainis and Peltzman, Chartered, on behalf of a client, drafted and filed a Petition for Rulemaking, RM No. 11659, asking to allow booster stations to originate programming. Several comments were filed, all in support of the petition. To date, that petition remains pending.