I’ve been busting to dish about what it was like at the FCC the day commissioners voted on the final authorization for IBOC.
The tension between Dems and GOP members of the commission over the digital radio item was evident to those in the room who were paying attention when the vote was taken. And while Chairman Martin got the five “yes” votes he reportedly sought, the partial dissents were articulated strongly.
Commissioner Michael Copps spoke at length about while it’s true digital radio is in its infancy, does okaying a blanket approval for multicasting somehow “persuade people to take spectrum … and bypass local communities?” He was disappointed the agency moved without answering how the spectrum would be used and asked what “public spectrum” means in the digital age.
Then he asked: Does a company really need to own eight stations in a market when it has the ability to multicast?
Fellow Dem Jonathan Adelstein said while he was glad the commission was finally getting the digital radio rules done, “localism and other public service obligations are ignored.” He said it would have been better to do the radio rules after the localism proceeding, which looks at broadcasters’ public service, was completed.
“I can’t understand why the majority doesn’t want to ask questions to better understand how to structure public interest obligations for radio.”