On Tuesday, as expected, The Federal Communications Commission eliminated the 80-year old broadcast main studio rule. Chairman Pai, Commissioners O’Rielly and Carr voted in favor. Commissioners Clyburn and Rosenworcel voted no. The Order retains the requirement that stations maintain a local or toll-free telephone.
In voting in favor of the rule change, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai 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.”
In voting against, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn called it a solemn day in the history of television and radio broadcasting. “By eliminating the main studio rule in its entirety for all broadcast stations — regardless of size or location – the FCC signals that it no longer believes, those awarded a license to use the public airwaves, should have a local presence in their community. Yes, the very same majority, that talks about embracing policies to promote job creation, is paving the way for broadcast station groups, large and small, to terminate studio staff and abandon the communities they are obligated to serve.”
The NAB cheered the move. NAB Executive Vice Presidentof Communications Dennis Wharton said, “NAB supports elimination of the main studio rule, which 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 We applaud the FCC for continuing to remove unnecessary and outdated broadcast regulations.”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 also cheered the move. Kim Keenan, President and CEO of MMTC, made the following statement: “The Main Studio Rule is a textbook example of a market entry barrier whose deregulation serves the public interest. 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.”