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Stone, Small Issue Letters Supporting Geo-Targeting


Adams Radio Group President/CEO and IBA President and Executive Director Ron Stone has written to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel offering support for the proposed rule change to allow FM boosters to originate content and allow over-the-air delivery of geo-targeted ads, PSAs and other program content. "The proposed rule change will give an important option to local radio operators seeking to compete more effectively for advertising, to fund our operations and to better serve our listeners," wrote Stone.

The letter comes on the heels of a newly-submitted letter to the FCC signed by state broadcasters' associations asking the Commission to deny the rule change proposal currently in front of the agency for "zonecasting" using FM boosters. In March, 2020, GeoBroadcast Solutions, asked the FCC to revise its rules so the broadcast radio industry could choose, on a voluntary basis, to deploy geo-targeted programming, including emergency alerts, news and advertising.

GBS says the proposed rule change -- RM-11854 -- relates solely to FM boosters and requested no changes to the FCC's rules regarding translators or interference.

Stone wrote that independent broadcaster "need to differentiate ourselves not only from bigger radio companies but also from all the other local traditional and digital ad-supported media competitors. Equally important, we need to be able to geo target the same way television, cable, newspaper and every digital operation we compete with does."

"Based on my deep experience in the radio industry and local advertising market, my conclusion is that innovative FM geotargeting technology is now ready to bring to market. The technology works. The geofenced zones that can be created based on engineering, business, and economic criteria will advance local radio stations' ability to compete," Stone continued.

He is also baffled by the "preposterous hypotheses without data" that some parties arguing that radio geotargeted advertising will lead to discriminatory redlining; a "race to the bottom" in radio advertising rates and audience confusion that may turn them away from the FM dial.

"Chairwoman Rosenworcel, I know that the NAB and its state associations along with Big Radio companies argue against this rule change. I believe this is based on hearsay, hypotheses, and ungrounded assessments and assertions made by large conglomerates in our industry. Please let local radio operators decide for themselves if they want to take advantage of the first innovative FM radio technology to come along in years," he concluded.

Additionally, John Small, licensee of KZOY and K227CZ in Siuox Falls, SD wrote to Senator John Thune, a ranking member of the Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet to bring his attention to the proceeding that he said "has the potential to revitalize the FM radio band."

"Technology exists today that would enable radio stations to geotarget hyperlocal ads, weather alerts, traffic reports, etc. But the FCC's rules literally bar the use of geotargeting by radio stations -- even though all other communications platforms presently geo-target their content, especially Big Tech. Then -- Chairman Ajit Pai proposed to repeal these rules in late 2020 and put radio stations on an even footing with other communications platforms. The FCC has spent the last year and a half receiving comments in this proceeding, and the time has come for a decision," Small wrote.

"Many small businesses have fled the radio platform precisely because it can't geotarget a market. Where are they going? Mainly Big Tech, but also other platforms. So the time has come for the FCC to stand aside. Radio stations deserve the opportunity to innovate and recapture those local ad dollars. We ask that you join us in urging the FCC to finish its work and repeal the rules that bar FM radio stations from geotargeting," Small concluded.

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