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FCC Eliminates 80-Year-Old Main Studio Rule


The FCC has eliminated the broadcast main studio rule, while retaining the requirement that stations maintain a local or toll-free number to ensure consumers have ready access to local stations. The main studio rule, adopted nearly 80 years ago, currently requires each AM radio, FM radio and TV broadcast station to have a main studio located in or near its local community. The rule was originally implemented to speed input from community members and the station's participation in community activities.

The Commission says that it recognizes the public can access information via broadcasters' online public file, and stations and community members can interact directly through alterative means such as e-mail, social media and phone. Given this, the Commission found that requiring broadcasters to maintain a main studio is outdated and unnecessarily burdensome.

The Commission also notes that the elimination of the main studio rule 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.

In a statement, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said, "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."

NAB Executive VP/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."

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