A proposal by Geo Broadcast Solutions to use FM booster stations to originate programming in a networked configuration attracted a paltry dozen comments to the FCC. None of the country’s major commercial or noncommercial broadcasters filed their thoughts on “ZoneCasting,” although those who did comment unanimously supported the idea and urged regulators to move forward with a rulemaking proceeding to allow this radical new use of boosters.
On June 6, the House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Communications and Technology held a hearing on “The Future of Audio” – an open-ended, quasi exploratory affair covering several subjects. Of note was the testimony of Jeff Smulyan, the President and CEO of Emmis Communications.
Emmis, in conjunction with iBiquity Digital Corporation and Intel, unveiled a prototype smartphone with FM-HD reception capability at the National Association of Broadcasters’ annual convention in April. The NAB itself has publicly acknowledged that getting FM reception into phones is its number one legislative priority this year.
The SBE notes that the number of broadcast engineers (especially those employed full-time) has been in a steady decline since the 1980s. This is when the FCC began getting rid of rules that required engineers to hold specific (and often multiple) qualifications to work at radio and television stations. Broadcasters could thus get by with fewer engineers, and many jobs which engineers used to do could now be done by lesser-qualified staff.
This week a D.C. communications law firm working with Geo Broadcast Solutions (GBS) unveiled the company’s Petition for Rulemaking at the FCC, which proposes to allow FM radio stations to use multiple booster transmitters for the provision of “targeted” programming.
The proposal stands to dramatically reconfigure the nature of an FM broadcast station: instead of one large transmitter covering a single area, GBS’ ZoneCast technology would allow stations to deploy as many as seven booster stations on their parent frequency, with each booster targeting a specific region of a station’s primary coverage area.
It’s not just the AM dial that’s being considered for reconfiguration.
A company called GEO Broadcast Solutions has developed a technology called “ZoneCasting,” which effectively allows FM radio stations to split up their coverage areas into unique regions featuring hyper-local content and advertising.