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Having mixed feelings about foreign investment in broadcast stations

Posted January 5th, 2012 in broadcasters, FCC, Government Regulation, radio and tagged by Alton Drew

I’m delving into the issue of foreign broadcast ownership for the first time with a series of post. I admit that I have reservations on the surface and that my initial feelings may change the more I dig into the notice of proposed rulemaking, section 310(b)(4), and the comments that have been filed.

Here is where I stand right now. While current law absolutely prohibits a foreign government from owning a broadcast license, the law allows a foreign government to own a direct or indirect interest ina U.S. based company that acts as the parent of the license holder or licensee.

Question is, does this indirectness of the relationship change anything? We don’t support government control of capital or private corporations, so why should we allow foreign government control, no matter how indirect?

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Broadcasting and social networking: Time to converge

Just got back from the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters conference being held in Washington, DC. As this fine group considered the use and monetization of social media in their operations, it struck me that such a convergence would bode well for broadband adoption, at least marginally.

Think about it. While you have to be in earshot of radio to access the content, by using social media, broadcasters can stay in touch with listeners that use wireless devices.

Broadcasters can stream video, audio, and text to their listeners and attach advertisements to their digital content.

The opportunity for this type of interaction may create additional demand for broadband access, both wireless and wired. Minority-owned broadcasters, for this reason, are in the drivers seat for helping to close the digital and broadband access divide.

The power of radio

Posted July 29th, 2011 in first responders, radio, spectrum and tagged , by Alton Drew

Communications is in the blood in my family. My brother served in the Signal Corp in the U.S. Army. My sister worked in broadcast television. I volunteered at a small radio station in the Virgin Islands while in high school. Today I still volunteer, this time with the U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, having manned radios on the ground and in the air.

Growing up in the Caribbean, you knew two things: First, the first week of school meant a hurricane was coming your way. Second, you better have a radio station in your community that you can rely on.

The video I’ve included in this blog post drives home that point. Radio stations serve a purpose greater than listening to Rhianna or Lady Gaga. They are the lifeblood of the community, ready to provide you with life saving information 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The rains from Camille almost took my father’s life in 1969. I lived through hurricanes David and Frederick in 1979, and drove through the gusty winds of Hurricane Kate. Through all those events there was radio, keeping me and my family informed.

For these reasons, I believe policy makers should acknowledge the power of radio by ensuring that its channels are unencumbered by unnecessary interference.