June 15, 1995

Separate Statement
Commissioner Susan Ness

Re: Establishment of Rules and Policies for the Digital Audio Radio Satellite Service in the 2310-2360 MHz Frequency Band

I am pleased to support this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to consider rules that will govern the licensing and operation of satellite-delivered digital audio radio (DARS).

DARS has the potential to expand radio choices for the rural population, which often is underserved by terrestrial broadcasters. It also may offer niche programming services which would be uneconomical if limited to one market but may be successful when marketed to an aggregated nationwide audience.

By creating DARS as a national radio service, the Commission is departing from its long- standing policy of licensing radio as a local service. As a national service, DARS will have the capability of beaming one hundred or more CD quality radio signals into each and every U.S. radio market. The fifty megahertz of spectrum allocated is approximately two and one- half times the amount of spectrum available on the AM and FM dials combined.

While these are very laudable benefits of the proposed service, the massive channel capacity and national service area also have the potential to overwhelm local terrestrial broadcasting. Radio, which is highly competitive, is an important source of local news and information. For this reason, I favor parameters for the service that will maximize the unique benefits of DARS and at the same time minimize its adverse impact on local terrestrial broadcasters. It would appear that establishing DARS as a subscription service may further this goal.

This NPRM properly seeks comment on several key issues:

The comments filed in this proceeding will help us to answer these questions. Much has changed in the marketplace since the application window was established three years ago, before the Commission had allocated spectrum for DARS and before the Commission had proposed DARS service rules. We need to update our record on the current technical details of proposed DARS systems, given the rapid innovation in digital technology and the many competing demands for spectrum -- a scarce and valuable public resource.

I am enthusiastic about the potential for in-band, on-channel digital AM and FM systems to better enable terrestrial broadcasters to compete in a digital world. I will do what I can to move it along as rapidly as possible.