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Broadcasters Deny Support of GBS’ Geo-Targeting Proposal

"Entirely unaware of our participation in this proceeding"

Radio broadcasters in Texas, Minnesota, Nebraska and Colorado have told the FCC they were unaware an attorney filed comments on their behalf in support of FM booster geo-targeting technology.

The most recent filings come on the heels of assertions made by NAB that questioned the validity of some filings in support of GeoBroadcast Solutions’ ZoneCasting proposal before the FCC. The proposal asks for a rule change that would allow FM boosters to originate programming.

At the center of the disputed comments are filings submitted by Aaron Shainis, partner with Shainis & Peltzman, to the FCC. The attorney sent dozens of letters to the FCC on behalf of small radio broadcasters in support of the GBS technology, as seen in the FCC database. 

[Related: “GBS Attorney Responds to Claims That Letters of Support Are Suspect“]

Ranchland Broadcasting, which operates KBRX(FM) in O’Neill, Neb., and Pikes Peak State College, which operates KEPC(FM) in Colorado Springs, Colo., stated in a combined filing: “The radio broadcasters listed below write to request that the Federal Communications Commission disregard the comments previously filed on our behalf in the above referenced proceeding because they do not accurately reflect our views. Contrary to what the comments indicate, the undersigned do not support the GeoBroadcast Solution’s (GBS) Petition or believe that it would benefit our stations or the public.

“Thus, to correct the record we ask the commission to remove those comments previously filed under our name in support of the petition at issue.”

The broadcasters’ original comments in support of geo-targeting were filed in February 2021 and signed by Shainis, according to records retrieved from the FCC database.

Several other small radio broadcasters “seek to correct the record in the GBS docket” in a combined filing with commission this week.

Q-Media Group, which operates multiple stations in Minnesota, and Falls Media LLC, which operates KWFB(FM) in Holliday, Texas and KXXN(FM) in Iowa Park, Texas, told the FCC they do not support ZoneCasting.

“It recently came to our attention that comments were filed at the FCC purportedly on our behalf in support of GBS’s proposal. The undersigned local radio broadcasters were entirely unaware of our participation in this proceeding and did not knowingly consent to having our name included on such filings, the radio broadcasters told the FCC.”

Their letter continued: “We are all proud but relatively small radio broadcast operators, with enormous demands on our limited time and resources. In general, we do not have the bandwidth to personally monitor activities at the FCC. Given this highly unusual circumstance, the broadcasters listed below respectfully request that the commission remove the prior filings indicating our support for GBS’s requested rule change from the record.”

[Related: “Members of Congress Share Concern About Geo-Targeting Proposal“]

The letters of support they refer to were filed in February 2021 and also signed by Shainis, according to FCC records. 

Shainis in a filing with the FCC on Wednesday countered that all comments filed were done with full authorization of all parties. He told Radio World in a separate email that the “broadcasters in question all granted permission in writing.”

Shainis at one time served as counsel to GBS, but a company spokesman told Radio World the attorney currently does not represent the developer.

The latest developments continue to define a proposal brought by GBS that has generated animus from opponents who claim the geo-targeting technology will cause interference and potentially disrupt radio’s business model. In addition, NAB has questioned past business dealings of the company’s founder and current CEO Chris Devine. 

Shainis told the FCC in his most recent filing: “It is shameful how low the NAB, through its Chief Legal Officer and Executive Vice President Rich Kaplan, has sunk to question the integrity of filings made in the docket.

“[I am] aware that NAB has gone out of its way to contact state broadcast associations and, in some cases, station owners themselves to dissuade them from supporting the GBS proposal.”  

[Find the rest of our stories covering the geo-targeting debate here.]