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Starks Keeps Spotlight on GBS Proposal

FCC commissioner continues to beat the drum for geotargeting

Commissioner Geoffrey Starks is continuing to voice support for the idea of allowing limited geo-targeting of content on FM boosters. He says it’s a way to encourage economic opportunities for marginalized communities.

Speaking to an online media symposium of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition and Citizenship Education Fund, Starks, who is currently one of two Democrats on the five-member commission, said the Federal Communications Commission “must meet its obligation to promote ownership by women and people of color,” according to text released by his office.

He noted that a pending notice of proposed rulemaking would allow GeoBroadcast Solutions to implement its idea for geo-targeting content. He said this would “allow for stations to provide hyper-localized content including alternative language news, weather, emergency alerts and advertising periodically during the broadcast day.”

“It has the potential to provide a method for stations owned by socially disadvantaged groups to better serve their communities, create opportunities for small businesses to advertise in a more cost-effective manner to a targeted audience, and for FM stations owned by people of color and women to increase advertising revenue,” Starks said.

Several major radio groups earlier this year expressed concern that the idea hasn’t been sufficiently trialed. They worry about possible listener confusion and station “self-interference.” They called it an unproven technology.

GBS has said its field tests showed no “harmful interference” and that the technology can be managed to minimize disruption.

The National Association of Broadcasters so far has given qualified support though it too said the FCC should “vet the technical issues” first.

Also, some broadcasters have told the FCC that if it were to allow this practice with boosters, it should also allow translators to original content,, potentially a much bigger change in rules covering the FM band. But the notice at the FCC only addresses proposals in the GBS petition, Radio World has reported.


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