This story has been updated with comment from NAB.
A group of 58 broadcast owners has written to the NAB criticizing its opposition to geotargeting.
These companies support GeoBroadcast Solutions, which wants the FCC to allow limited geotargeting using FM boosters. The broadcasters, listed at bottom of this story, are not big corporate names, yet they own about 1,800 stations in total.
They take NAB President/CEO Curtis LeGeyt to task for suggesting that the U.S. radio industry is united against geotargeting; and they say that NAB’s opposition will actually hurt radio in the long run. GBS distributed the letter to trade media. [Read the letter.]
“[T]he NAB has mentioned on several occasions that the radio industry is unified in its opposition to geotargeting,” they wrote.
“In fact, a trade publication recently reported that you said you were ‘not hearing from broadcasters that they support the rule change that would allow FM boosters to geo-target programming and ads, a few minutes per hour, to specific communities.’ That’s not true, and this letter is intended to correct that misinterpretation.”
The companies also told LeGeyt that NAB’s opposition “will do long-term damage to the ability of broadcasters to continue to effectively advocate for deregulation of the broadcast sector.”
They reminded him of NAB’s efforts to ease the burden on broadcasters of regulations compared to other media. “It’s for this reason that we are troubled and confused by the NAB’s position in support of a legacy regulation, rather than its repeal.”
They said technology has advanced to the point where the FCC can amend its rules to permit broadcasters to geotarget.
“In fact, the NAB correctly advocated for geotargeting for television broadcasters with the adoption of ATSC 3.0. We simply fail to understand why the NAB pushed so hard five years ago to permit TV broadcasters to geotarget content but now is leading the effort to deny that same capability to its radio brethren.”
They expressed a concern that “the NAB’s position is a retreat from the NAB’s ironclad commitment to broadcast deregulation.” They said this would leave legislators and regulators uncertain as to broadcasters’ commitment to deregulation and give an opening to competitors and critics.
Invited to comment in response to the letter, NAB spokesman Alex Siciliano issued this statement: “NAB, state broadcaster associations from across the country and an overwhelming number of large and small radio broadcasters in a diverse range of markets have serious concerns with ZoneCasting technology. Even GeoBroadcast Solutions’ own testing shows that ZoneCasting will disrupt local radio stations’ ability to serve listeners. GBS has conveniently avoided disclosing the substantial cost of its proprietary technology that many broadcasters simply could not afford.
“NAB supports innovation that enables broadcasters to better serve their communities and a regulatory framework that provides local radio stations with the freedom to thrive in the future. We strongly urge the FCC to reject GBS’s request to allow ZoneCasting, which achieves neither of these objectives and would have devastating consequences for the long-term viability of local radio.”
The list of companies signing the letter:
1400 Investment, LLC
Ashley Communications, Inc.
Ashley County Broadcasters
Best Media, Inc.
Center Broadcasting Company
Cheyenne Mountain Public Broadcast House
Cohan Radio Group
Country Gold Broadcasting
Datatech Digital LLC
Dockins Broadcast Group
Double-R Communications, LLC
Educational Communications of Colorado Springs
Evans Broadcast Company
Evans Broadcasting, Inc.
Falls Media, LLC
Far West Radio, LLC
Flagstaff Radio, Inc.
Hazard Broadcasting, Inc.
HubCast Broadcasting, Inc.
Jam Media Solutions
Kath Broadcasting Co.
Keyhole Broadcasting, LLC
KM Radio of Atlanta
Lake Broadcasting, Inc.
Lazo Media LLC
Leslie County Broadcasting, Inc.
LHTC Media of West Virginia, Inc.
Marshall University Board of Governors
Monticello-Wayne County Media, Inc.
Mountain Broadcasting Service, Inc.
Murphy Broadcasting, LLC
Ohana Del Sol, LLC
Peak Radio, LLC
Phillips Broadcasting Company
Pikes Peak Community College
Q Media Group, LLC
Roberts Radio Broadcasting
Silicon Valley Broadcasting
Sky Media, LLC
Southark Broadcasters, Inc.
Southwest Media, Inc.
Southwestern Diabetic Foundation
Truckee Tahoe Radio, LLC
Two Black Cadillacs, Inc.
Windy City Broadcasting
Yeary Broadcasting, Inc.