FCC Releases NPRM On Main Studio Rule’s Rescission


Want an end to the FCC’s main studio rule?

Now’s your chance to let the Commission know how you feel.

In an unanimous 3-0 vote at today’s FCC May Open meeting, the Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposes to eliminate the rule, which requires each AM, FM, and television broadcast station to have a main studio located in or near its local community.

The NPRM also proposes to eliminate the requirement that the main studio have full-time management and staff present during normal business hours, and the requirement that it be able to originate programming.

The main studio rule, which the FCC first adopted more than 70 years ago, was originally implemented on the premise that local access to the main studio facilitated input from community members and the station’s participation in community activities.

Today, the FCC’s majority believes, modern communications enable stations and community members to interact more directly, without the presence of a local broadcast studio.

In addition, community members already, or soon will, have online access to a station’s public file, removing the need for community members to visit the main studio to access the file.  Television broadcasters completed their transition to the online public file in 2014, and radio broadcasters will complete their transition by early 2018.

In voting in favor of the NPRM, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said, “The proceeding we begin today could grant this broadcaster and all others affected by this rule the flexibility to use their limited resources in a way that best serves their communities. Today’s Notice is an important step towards bringing the FCC’s media rules into the digital age.”

Mignon Clyburn

Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn approved but issued a separate statement, expressing concerns that a repeat of a January 2002 incident regarding a toxic spill from a railway accident could happen.

She recalled how Clear Channel Communications’ six-station Minot, S.D., cluster failed to promptly respond and alert listeners, as programming was either satellite-delivered or voicetracked.

The company now known as iHeartRadio was the lone commercial secular broadcaster in Minot at the time of the incident.