Commissioner Minon Clyburn voted in favor of eliminating the main studio rule at Thursday’s FCC meeting, however, she’s not so convinced it needs to go. She says the main studio is often the only physical tie a broadcaster has to the local community and by eliminating the rule, “we are embracing a world in which automated national programming is the new normal.” Here’s more from Clyburn’s statement.
Clyburn says broadcasters are often among the first to report an emergency, and when it comes to radio, that physical main studio presence means they actually know and are experiencing first hand, what their local listeners want and need to hear. When the community wants to know what is going on in their backyard, my question is, will simulcasting fill the gap?
She also says she understands the economic challenges facing many stations, particularly in small and midsized markets. And if elimination of the main studio rule is what gives that small market station with just five employees, the chance to keep the lights on and continue producing local programming, then she is empathetic. “But we need to think long and hard about the practical implications of eliminating this rule altogether. While it is true, that with the public file now accessible online, members of the public have one less reason to visit a station’s main studio. And yes, a local or toll-free telephone number is a good thing, but if nobody is there to answer that call, and the only option is to leave a voicemail, how often will it be checked, when will that call be returned, and who is going to report if, heaven forbid, there is, say, a train derailment and hazardous chemicals are spilled, jeopardizing the safety of the surrounding community?”