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FCC Report & Order Eliminates Radio Duplication Rule


Federal Communications Commission
Federal Communications Commission

The FCC has adopted a Report and Order eliminating the radio duplication rule for both the AM and FM services. The rule restricted the duplication of programming on commonly-owned broadcast radio stations operating in the same service and geographic area. The rule, initially adopted in 1964, has been updated several times over the years to reflect marketplace changes, most recently in 1992.

In the Order on Thursday, the Commission found that eliminating the radio duplication rule will help struggling stations stay on the air, affording broadcast radio licensees greater flexibility to address issues of local concern in a timely fashion, particularly in times of crisis. It should also assist with format changes, facilitate a potential voluntary digital transition in the AM service and ultimately allow stations to improve service to their communities.

The Commission also concludes that broadcasters have no incentive to limit their appeal and thus their revenues by simulcasting the same programming on multiple stations for long periods of time so the benefits of providing additional flexibility outweigh any costs.

Chairman Pai, Commissioners O'Rielly and Carr approving, while Commissioners Rosenworcel and Starks concurring in part and dissenting in part.

Starks said, "I have concerns that today's decision will undoubtedly make it easier and more cost-effective for large station groups to hoard local stations without any obligation to provide significant programming that meets local community needs. Moreover, I fear it will reward ownership consolidation and thus will likely exacerbate an already huge disparity in the number of media outlets owned and controlled by people of color and women, which often translates to a lack of locally relevant and diverse programming that addresses local needs and interests."

In statement, NAB Senior Vice President of Communications Ann Marie Cumming wrote, "We applaud the Commission for continuing to modernize its media rules. Given that there is no longer any rationale for imposing a ban on duplicating one's radio signal, we appreciate the FCC's decision to rescind the rule. We appreciate in particular the efforts of Commissioners O'Rielly and Carr, who understood that the rule outlived its usefulness and that regulations in and of themselves come with a cost."

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