Wednesday, July 5, 2017

NAB Urges FCC To Do Away With Main Studio Regs

The National Association of Broadcasters is calling on the FCC to move ahead with its plans to end the main studio rule for radio and TV broadcasters, according to

In an FCC filing (PDF), the NAB said the main studio rule, along with the related equipment and staffing requirements, should be ditched since audiences now more often interact digitally with licensees.

As NAB points out, when the main studio rule was established in 1940, it was meant to more easily allow viewers to actually visit TV stations. When the rule was revised in 1998, many of the ways in which stations and their audiences interact today had yet to be developed, the NAB wrote.

NAB said that eliminating the rule will have no impact on studios’ connections to the local communities they serve.

“Stations will continue to have strong incentives to know and understand the needs and interests of their communities of license, and the public will continue to interact with their local stations in ways that are not dependent upon the existence of a studio—using social media, telephone, email, letters and websites maintained by both stations and the FCC,” the NAB wrote.

“Audiences certainly had the ability to mail letters to stations,” NAB noted, “but in 1940, only 39% of U.S. households had telephones. Even when the main studio rule was most recently revised in 1998, many of the revolutionary ways in which stations and their audiences interact today had yet to be developed.

“Today’s audiences are in frequent communication with their local stations through multiple means. Stations have deployed their own mobile applications, are active on multiple social media platforms (often with multiple accounts specific to their news and weather operations) and have websites with both live and archived content.

“Audiences can and do share information with their local stations using social media, website comments, letters, emails and calls.”

In April, the FCC officially opened a docket for the review of current media ownership rules, making good on a pledge that Chairman Ajit Pai made during this year’s NAB Show in Las Vegas.

“The last thing broadcast needs are outdated rules standing in their way,” Pai said. “We want to make sure the rules match the reality of 2017, not 1987.”

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