FCC opens radio waves to Native Americans


The FCC noted that there are over 565 Native Nations in the United States, and those with their own land have access to radio allotments. However, these rules provide no help for Nations that are without their own territory, and an FCC Order will take steps to make sure they also have a chance to get radio service.

* Adopted a policy for waiving certain requirements in the Tribal Priority in order to allow non-landed Tribes to take advantage of the Tribal Priority to provide radio broadcast services to Native communities.

* Adopted an alternative coverage standard to allow Tribes with small or irregularly shaped lands to take advantage of the Tribal Priority to provide radio broadcast service to their Native communities.

* Modified its procedures for determining which communities should receive priority in the award of new or relocated broadcast radio service.  These modifications are designed to ensure a fair distribution of radio service to small, less well-served communities and rural areas as well as urbanized areas.

* Seeks comment on whether the Commission should require, as a threshold qualification to apply for a commercial FM channel allotted pursuant to the Tribal Priority, that an applicant qualify for the Tribal Priority for that channel, as well as seeking further comment on the Tribal Bidding Credit. 

The proceeding also dealt with broadband and 9-1-1- issues.

“We recognize that action is needed to strengthen and expand broadband and communications services in Native communities,” said Geoffrey Blackwell, Chief of the FCC’s Office of Native Affairs and Policy. “The Commission’s actions will help cultivate partnerships among Native Nations, federal agencies, and broadband and communications providers to deploy these vital services in Native communities. This is a top priority for the Commission.”