Here’s what broadcasters should be thinking about when taking advantage of the commission’s new rules abolishing the main studio and staffing requirements.
The FCC’s decision to abolish the main studio rule is to be effective 30 days after the publication of the decision in the Federal Register. That publication is tentatively scheduled for tomorrow. That would make the rule change effective on Jan. 7, 2018, although we understand that the FCC may consider it to be effective on Jan. 8, as the 7th is a Sunday.
In separate dissenting statements, Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn says the FCC majority erred in completely eliminating the rule. Instead of taking a “sledge hammer” to it, the three Republicans should have agreed to a compromise, like a more lenient waiver policy. And Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel says the action will “hollow out” broadcasting’s tradition of local service.
The FCC yesterday released the agenda for its Oct. 24 open meeting, as well as draft orders of the matters to be considered at that meeting. For broadcasters, the single most significant proposal was a draft order to abolish the requirement that a broadcast station maintain a main studio in close proximity to its city of license that is open to the public and staffed during normal business hours.
The group says the commission is correct in asserting that the regulation is outdated and unnecessary now that the public can and does share information with stations via “social media, website comments, letters, emails and calls.”
The commission says getting rid of the requirement adopted more than 70 years ago would reduce regulatory burdens and costs for broadcasters.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai formally unveiled two proposals on Thursday to remove outdated broadcast regulations. First, the commission released a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would eliminate the main studio rule for all services (including the associated minimum staffing requirements). Second, it released a draft Public Notice seeking comment on media-related rules to modify or repeal.