Broadcasters rally the locals


The FCC’s localism proceeding, which dates back to 2004, had drawn 116,116 filings when we checked on Friday. If you exclude brief text comments filed on the FCC’s website, the count is only 4,896, but even then we must admit we haven’t read them all. But we did try for a while to find someone who might have filed in support of some of the more extreme proposals in the Commission’s recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, such as bringing back the main studio rule, and came up dry. There were quite a few comments supporting more LPFM stations and railing against media consolidation, which isn’t really the focus of this particular rulemaking, but nobody that we could find who thought it was a good idea to boost the construction industry by making broadcasters construct thousands of new studio buildings.

What we did find were lots and lots of filings from local organizations praising their local broadcasters for their local service and activism, which somehow several members of the FCC think is lacking.

For example, the CBS Television Stations group sent the FCC hundreds and hundreds of letters from local organizations who wrote to the O&O stations praising them for their efforts to publicize events and help raise money or awareness for worthy causes. Many, many other radio and TV stations asked local organizations to write directly to the FCC and a surprising number did just that.

A raft of recent filings came from the St. Louis area. The FCC heard from St. Patrick Center, Animal Protective Society of Missouri, Operation Food Search, Ronald McDonald House, National Kidney Foundation, American Diabetes Association, Special Olympics Missouri and Support Dogs Inc., just to name a few.

While they all made a point of praising the Bonneville St. Louis Radio Group for supporting their local charitable efforts, the letters were hardly of the cookie cutter variety. Each spelled out the purpose of the organization and specifically how it had been aided by the Bonneville radio stations.

The letter from Dan Harbaugh, President of the St. Louis Ronald McDonald House, which serves the families of seriously ill children while they are hospitalized, noted that Debbie Egley, a Bonneville employee, serves on two of the organization’s committees.

“The St. Louis group was also the Radio Partner for the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun event and helped us increase attendance by 25%. The PSAs that ran to advertise the event were a huge help,” Harbaugh wrote. He also noted that representatives of the Ronald McDonald House appear each quarter on the public affairs show which airs on the local Bonneville stations. “It is a huge contribution to have the stations help broadcasting our needs. Whether it be for volunteers or funds, they are more than willing to help,” he wrote.

Harbaugh offered the FCC his conclusion: “The station serves this organization’s needs and Ronald McDonald House Charities of Metro St. Louis Inc. sees no need for additional rules or reporting requirements that insert federal oversight of the process of broadcasters serving the community.”

RBR/TVBR observation: Maybe it’s not surprising, after all, that the organizations helped by local broadcasters year after year have stepped up to defend them from an assault by uninformed regulators.