FCC Eliminates Main Studio Rule
The nearly eighty-year-old Main Studio Rule which required the maintenance of a studio in or near the community of license for AM and FM broadcasters has been eliminated. There remains only a requirement to maintain either a local or toll-free telephone number where the public may reach staff during normal business hours. Furthermore, the expectation of the commission is that broadcasters will continue to serve and be accountable to their local community. This would be achieved in part through the online accessibility of the station’s public file (read more about the online public file requirement).
The elimination of this rule was adopted by a three to two vote. The dissenters, Commissioners Rosenworcel and Clyburn, expressed concern that the elimination of the rule would lead to diminished local community presence. Also, both commissioners were in favor of a revised waiver process which would have made main studio waivers more accessible to broadcasters in small markets and rural areas. The dissent statements are available here and here. In response to these concerns, Commissioner O’Reilly made the following statement in his assent:
“There has been no causal effect much less any correlation shown between the maintenance of this rule and the quality of programming or the amount of local content.”
Those commissioners in favor of eliminating the rule all expressed the hope that stations previously burdened by main studio requirements will now be able to allocate their resources, including time, money, and personnel, to serving their communities of license through better programming, upgrades to equipment, and greater localization.
We at CRA are grateful to attorney Dennis J. Kelly who at the request of The Presence Radio, offered support to the initiative to eliminate the main studio rule during the public comment window.
FCC Proposes Changes to Reporting and Notification Requirements for Broadcasters
The FCC is now seeking public comment with regards to how broadcasters notify the public of broadcast license applications and renewals and also whether the rule should be eliminated entirely. This proposed change is part of the Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative which began in May of this year. Those who wish to offer comment may do so once the comment dates are published in the Federal Register. The full press release is available here.