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Radio News: NAB and NPR team up against ZoneCasting

Jun 23, 2022 11:33 pm

Randy J. Stine reports for Radio World that the National Association of Broadcasters and National Public Radio are among the group's opposed to the Federal Communications Commission allowing ZoneCasting. The new technology lets a radio station that covers a large area use FM boosters to geo-target some content in specific areas. So in New York, for instance, WAMC is a network of translator stations all broadcasting the same signal from the Canadian border to the outskirts of New York City. Under this new technology they could geotarget local news for, say, Newburgh or Kingston, while different local news plays in Albany. The National Association of Broadcasters, a trade group for the biggest corporate radio stations in the U.S., cites supposed "interference" the new technology would create for its opposition. National Public Radio claims the technology would threaten to cause widespread harm to the fidelity of the FM dial. Neither support those claims with many facts. More likely, both organizations want to ward off competition. In the past the NAB and NPR both opposed allowing community-run low-power FM stations on the air, because they did not want the competition. In that case, all the industry claims that new, small low-power stations would cause interference to big, corporate stations proved false. In this case, smaller broadcasters are in favor of ZoneCasting, as a way to better serve those listeners. But if smaller stations serve their listeners well, the NAB and NPR seem to believe it will come at the expense of larger stations. In 2009 a Federal Communications Commission report found that small, community radio stations do not impact the ratings or revenue of large commercial stations. "Our final conclusion is that the analysis finds no statistically reliable evidence that [low-power FM] stations have a consistent effect on the economic performance of full-service commercial FM stations," the report said.

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