GeoBroadcast Solutions is asking the Federal Communications Commission to tweak a rule — 47 C.F.R. § 74.1231(i) — that currently prevents broadcasters from legally deploying its ZoneCasting technology on booster stations. The company filed an ex parte presentation explaining the details on Nov. 29.
In a press release, the company repeatedly emphasized how small the rule change would be. The “minor” alteration would permit FM boosters “to originate some of their own programming” in order to geo-target content or ads, and, importantly, it would also be voluntary.
GeoBroadcast notes that “radio is currently the only mass medium” that cannot currently provide geo-targeted content, whereas the commission “recognized the value of this capability in its 2017 order authorizing the voluntary deployment of ATSC 3.0” for television broadcasters. The filing asserts ZoneCasting would enable radio broadcasters to be “in line with what their traditional competitors, television broadcasters and MVPDs, can do.”
GeoBroadcast Chief Technology Officer Bill Hieatt said, “ZoneCasting is architected to deliver hyperlocal content, while ensuring a synchronized broadcast that presents a near-seamless experience for radio listeners moving through a market. The benefits for radio broadcasters, who face increasing competition from streaming and multimedia services for audience share, are enormous from a revenue-generation and audience engagement perspective.”
The filing contains results of BIA and Edison Research studies that indicate the economic potential of ZoneCasting, GeoBroadcast says. For example, the BIA study estimates that radio is losing “$75 billion in location-based advertising revenue,” and “ZoneCasting could incrementally generate up to $750 million dollars for local radio broadcasters.” Edison Research also cites consumer interest in ads more tailored to their location: “77% of respondents would pay more attention to ads on the radio if they were for business or products in their local area; and 72% would listen to radio more often if commercials were better targeted to their local areas.”