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Furchgott-Roth Supports Rule Change for Geo-Targeting


Harold Furchtgott-Roth
Harold Furchtgott-Roth

Former FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth (pictured), a director of the Center for the Economics of the Internet at the Hudson Institute, and his colleague, Kirk Arner, have submitted a letter to the FCC in support of the proposed rule change that would permit radio broadcasters to broadcast geo-targeted programming along with emergency alerts and advertising.

The letter begins, "We take great interest in the development and availability of new technologies in the communications sector," and continues, "...we find that enabling new technologies to compete in the marketplace that do not impair existing services benefits consumers. Our review of the record in this proceeding indicates that the new technologies proposed for FM boosters with geo-targeting content would not impair existing services."

Furchtgott-Roth is one of the few economists to have served as a federal regulatory commissioner, and the only one to have served on the Federal Communications Commission. He founded Furchtgott-Roth Economic Enterprises in 2003 and frequently comments on issues related to the communications sector of the economy. From 1997 through 2001, he served as a commissioner of FCC. In that capacity, he served on the Joint Board on Universal Service.

Kirk R. Arner is a legal fellow at Hudson's Center for the Economics of the Internet. Alongside senior fellow Furchtgott-Roth, he studies and writes about the intersection of technology and policy, with a particular focus on telecommunications regulation and antitrust.

Furchtgott-Roth and Arner conclude with, "In sum, we find that allowing these new technologies to compete in the marketplace on a voluntary basis would be consistent with the Commission's objective to remove competitive barriers to entry to the benefit of American communications consumers."

The proposed rule change -- RM-11854 -- relates solely to FM boosters and requested no changes to the FCC's rules regarding translators or interference. Radio is currently the only mass medium that can't geo-target its content. The television industry gained the ability to geo-target in 2017 when the FCC adopted the Next-Gen TV standard - also known as ATSC 3.0 - at the urging of NAB.

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