Rulemaking Begins for FM Boosters to Originate Programming

Posted on December 29th, 2020 by

The FCC has initiated a rulemaking proceeding seeking comment on a proposal by GeoBroadcast Solutions to allow FM booster stations to originate limited amounts of programming different from their primary station.  The proposal would allow FM broadcasters to employ geographically targeted ads and news via FM boosters at locations in the primary station’s service area.  Technical and operational issues are at the forefront, especially with the potential for interference.

The FCC also asks whether FM boosters used for geo-targeting should have power limits, and how geo-targeting would work in an HD environment.  It also proposes a limit on origination of 5% of hourly programming (3 minutes per hour), and asks whether there should be a limit on how many boosters a station should be authorized.  Even the application process for new boosters is up for discussion/input.

With much to be decided, plus the delays triggered by the change in administration, this proceeding will probably take some time to materialize.  Whether this novel concept can be captured in a manageable rule remains to be seen.  Broadcasters interested in supporting or opposing the rulemaking should weigh in by the comment deadlines.