The commission says the action will further reduce regulatory burdens and costs for broadcasters. NAB and MMTC applaud the action.
The FCC today eliminated its broadcast main studio rule that currently requires each TV, AM and FM station to have a main studio located in or near its local community.
The action came on a 3-2 with the two Democrats, Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn dissenting.
Nearly 80 years old, the rule was implemented to facilitate input from community members and the station’s participation in community activities.
The commission’s new order retains the requirement that stations maintain a local or toll-free telephone number to ensure consumers have ready access to their local stations.
In axing the rule, the FCC said it “recognizes that today the public can access information via broadcasters’ online public file, and stations and community members can interact directly through alternative means such as e-mail, social media, and the telephone.”
Given this, it found that requiring broadcasters to maintain a main studio is outdated and unnecessarily burdensome.
Elimination of the main studio rule, the FCC said, “should produce substantial cost-saving benefits for broadcasters that can be directed toward such things as programming, equipment upgrades, newsgathering, and other services that benefit consumers. It will also make it easier for broadcasters to prevent stations in small towns from going dark and to launch new stations in rural areas.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement: “The overwhelming majority of public input favored our proposal. The record shows that main studios are no longer needed to enable broadcasters to be responsive to their communities of license. That’s because the public these days is much more likely to interact with stations (including accessing stations’ public files) online. Additionally, technology allows broadcast stations to produce local news even without a nearby studio.
“The record also shows that getting rid of the rule will help broadcasters serve viewers and listeners, especially those in small towns and rural areas where the cost of compliance dissuades broadcasters from even launching stations.”
And NAB EVP of Communications Dennis Wharton voiced support, saying the rule “has outlived its usefulness in an era of mobile news gathering and multiple content delivery platforms. We’re confident that cost savings realized from ending the main studio rule will be reinvested by broadcasters in better programming and modernized equipment to better serve our local communities. We applaud the FCC for continuing to remove unnecessary and outdated broadcast regulations.”
The Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council congratulated the FCC on the move.
“The…rule is a textbook example of a market entry barrier whose deregulation serves the public interest,” said Kim Keenan, president-CEO of MMTC. “In practice the rule drove capital away from multicultural broadcasters who were unable to operate as efficiently as other broadcasters who could house more stations in a single main studio. The commission has done the right thing by targeting this obsolete rule for repeal.”