FCC eliminates local studio requirement for broadcasters

FCC eliminates local studio requirement for broadcasters
© Greg Nash

The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday voted to eliminate a rule requiring television and radio broadcasters to maintain studios in the communities they serve.

The FCC passed the proposal in a 3-2, party-line vote. Republicans argued that the nearly 80-year-old rule was outdated, given that consumers can access news about their communities online.

“The record shows that main studios are no longer needed to enable broadcasters to be responsive to their communities of license,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. “That’s because the public these days is much more likely to interact with stations (including accessing stations’ public files) online. Additionally, technology allows broadcast stations to produce local news even without a nearby studio.”

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But critics said that eliminating the requirement would undermine local news coverage across the country.

“There are many broadcasters who do an extraordinary job serving communities during disaster,” said Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. “But let’s be honest—they can only do so when they have a real presence in their area of license. That’s not a retrograde notion—it’s a fact.”

The FCC’s other Democrat, Mignon Clyburn, noted in a statement that Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, a close ally of President Trump, opposed the elimination of the rule in an op-ed this week.

The critics worry that eliminating the rule will pave the way for media consolidation, allowing local news broadcasters to be run by faraway network headquarters.