The FCC, in its quest to encourage more local programming from broadcast outlets, is looking at many remedies. Among these is a requirement that licensees locate and man a main studio within the actual city of license of a given broadcast station. The Minority Media and Telecommunications Council finds this to be highly problematic for a lot of minority-owned stations. In a nutshell, MMTC notes that minorities and non-English speaking licensees were shut out of the early licensing process way back when, and in playing catch-up, have generally been limited to technically inferior stations most often licensed to suburban communities rather than the main city of a given market. This rule “…would act as a tax on late entry.”
Using Los Angeles as an example, it notes that Hispanic specialist Liberman Broadcasting would need to have five separate main studios for six stations, while Clear Channel would need only two for nine stations.
MMTC statisitician Fredrick Holt says the proposed main studio rule would not increase locally originated programming; rather, it would “diminish local programming by heightening the profound financial challenges faced by the very broadcasters that historically have shown the greatest dedication to local service: minority owners.” He says that “…reverting to the pre-1987 main studio rule would ratify and replicate the present effects of past discrimination…”
RBR/TVBR observation: It is one thing when a trade organization opposes a new proposed government regulation. Sometimes it seems that if there is a document that licensees are currently required to sign, and the FCC issues a notice of proposed rulemaking saying that now the document must be signed AND dated, then all the various broadcasting associations and a significant percentage of the group owners will get their lawyers to write in about how the new dating scheme is an onerous and costly burden that will only hasten the demise of America’s forests.
That is the natural reaction to even the slightest new regulation or restriction. But the mutual agreement on this issue from NAB and MMTC by itself makes a strong case that the government is off base this time. NAB is the main organization for existing broadcasters. MMTC is trying to increase the number of minority citizens who would be eligible to join NAB as active licensees. When both are saying that a government proposal is onerous and counterproductive, you can be pretty sure that it IS in fact onerous and counterproductive. The FCC should deep six this plan immediately.