WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fiery dissent from the FCC’s two Democratic Commissioners couldn’t sway at least one of their three Republican colleagues to vote alongside them on a matter of keen interest to radio and TV station owners.
As a result, in a 3-2 party-line vote, the elimination of the main studio rule is on its way to fruition, putting an end to a regulation crafted — as Commissioner Brendan Carr noted in his comments — just months before the start of World War II.
The Order, officially registered as “MB Docket No. 17-106,” retains the requirement that stations maintain a local or toll-free telephone number to ensure consumers have ready access to their local stations.
Other than that, the physical presence by way of a main studio — implemented in 1939 to facilitate input from community members and the station’s participation in community activities — is soon to be as much of relic as times gone by as wind-up Victrolas and black-and-white television sets.
The main studio rule’s disappearance will now see every AM radio, FM radio, and television broadcast station rely on modern communication — something the three Republicans voting in the affirmative — stressed. As the public can access information via broadcasters’ online public file, and stations and community members can interact directly through e-mail, social media, and the telephone, “the Commission found that requiring broadcasters to maintain a main studio is outdated and unnecessarily burdensome.”
That’s something Commissioners Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel vociferously disagreed with. That was not enough to stop approval of the Report and Order (FCC 17-137).