Groups which filed comments opposing the unprecedented preference for a single group had argued that it amounts to unconstitutional discrimination. Others had argued that the proposal is simply unworkable for the AM band and would create havoc.
In rejecting the discrimination issue, the FCC order cited the “unique legal status of Indian tribes under federal law.” The news release announcing the new rule noted that only 41 US radio stations are currently licensed to native tribes.
Tribal groups applaud FCC preference vote
The two groups, in a joint statement, hailed the FCC’s order as groundbreaking important step in the right direction to solve the pervasive problems of the lack of myriad communications services in Tribal communities. “In addition to some of the lowest levels of telephony and broadband internet services in the nation, American Indians and Alaska Natives have been largely invisible in the broadcasting industry on all levels ranging from media access, to control and ownership of broadcast facilities,” they stated.
For more on the subject, see Increasing Tribal Radio Opportunities.