Translator Petition Attracts Scant Comment

A couple dozen folks filed comments in the FCC’s proposed rulemaking to allow FM translator stations to originate their own programming. Several of the commenters are long-time LPFM activists, and many of them support the proposal provided that a translator’s license status is not used to bump LPFM stations off the air, and that the FCC be diligent enough to prevent this type of abuse, especially in light of the speculation and trafficking in translator station construction permits that’s gone on in recent years. (Conspicuously missing from the initial comment round is LPFM’s largest institutional proponent, the Prometheus Radio Project.)

Other supporters of the proposal include local owners of single translator stations, who believe they could be used to replace full-power stations in smaller communities that have since been bought out by broadcast conglomerates and moved closer to larger markets (“rimshot” stations). Read More

NAB Finesses Lobbying Strategy

The boss who oversaw the National Association of Broadcasters’ evisceration of the FCC’s low-power FM radio service, Eddie Fritts, stepped aside as president last year, and considers the squelching of LPFM one of his greatest accomplishments. The new NAB chieftain is David K. Rehr, former chairman of the National Beer Wholesalers Association.

NAB President David Rehr, GOP Palm-Greaser ExtraordinaireWhen Rehr was selected to replace Fritts, the NAB pointed to his significant and unabashed lobbying and fundraising skills – Rehr made the NBWA political action fund one of the ten biggest spenders in Washington and currently doles out more than twice as much cash as does the NAB. Rehr was also a “Bush Pioneer” in 2004, raising more than $100,000 for his second campaign, and has extremely close ties to Republican congressional leadership and the K Street Project. Read More

Digital Multicasting Rollout Begins

The consortium of major broadcasters pushing digital radio are wasting no time deploying what they believe to be its “killer app,” multicasting – the ability to split a single radio channel into multiple program streams. Earlier this month they announced the rollout of digital multicast signals in several dozen markets. The broadcasts introduce industry-coordinated secondary program channels featuring formats like “Classical Alternative,” “Coffee House,” “Female Talk,” and “Extreme Hip-Hop,” and some miscellaneous strangeness. For now, these channels will be offered without commercials.

My ongoing research into digital radio is dredging up lots of interesting information, much of which has a direct impact on the viability of multicasting. Read More