Truly wish I’d been there for the Broadcasting Board of Governors’s Commission on Innovation gathering held in Washington D.C. on February 10. The BBG oversees most United States broadcasting services, including the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and Radio Free Liberty. The subject of the event: “how U.S. international broadcasting can add renewed luster to its global brands.”
Among the attendees, Rob Glaser of RealNetworks, Mark Surman of Mozilla, Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, and Brendan Ballou of Google Ideas.
“Topics ranged from overcoming Iran’s monitoring of Internet users and web censorship,” the summary of the event explained, “to connecting with the rising class of professional women in Burma, to broadening reach in Cuba in the face of a near total blockade of technology, to engaging young audiences in China and in the Middle East.”
Meanwhile the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops took a break from hamming the Obama administration on contraception coverage and instead urged the Federal Communications Commission to start licensing Low Power FM radio stations, ASAP. The U.S. Conference’s Katherine Grincewich and Prometheus Radio’s Brandy Doyle met with an FCC Commission’s staff representative on the same day as that VOA conference:
Ms. Grincewich discussed the history of the Low Power FM (LPFM) service and the role of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in supporting the development and expansion of LPFM. She shared the interest that Catholic dioceses, and especially Catholic school systems, have in building LPFM stations or supporting these stations with programming. She described the potential to use LPFM to broadcast Mass services to reach elderly parishioners and others unable to attend Mass, and the value of LPFM in reaching parishioners who speak languages other than English. She also reiterated the vision for LPFM as a truly locally programmed and locally responsive service, and discussed the value of a local programming requirement for new LPFM stations.
Grincewich has been a point person on these issues for quite a while actually, at least as long as I’ve been paying attention. In a separate meeting with the FCC, Doyle emphasized:
the need for LPFM applicants to have ample notice to prepare for a filing window after the conclusion of the rulemaking process, and raised the benefits of multiple filing windows. Multiple filing windows would allow allocations engineers to serve more applicants with engineering showings than would a single national filing window. She also discussed the benefits of a local programming requirement for new LPFM stations. Such a requirement would ensure that scarce licenses would go to those groups best able to serve local communities.