As of midday Thursday (5/18), the FCC is now open to input on the proposed elimination of its Main Studio Rule.
On Friday, the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council (MMTC) wasted no time in commending the FCC’s action.
As the MMTC sees it, the end of the Main Studio Rule will favorably impact minority broadcasters “by removing an archaic rule that historically has worked to their disadvantage.”
The FCC’s Main Studio Rule requires that all full-power broadcasters must maintain a studio either within their city of license, or at another site either within 25 miles of its city of license or within the city-grade contour of any station licensed to the same city of license as the station.
It dates to 1946; interestingly, Germany’s broadcast media have a similar rule that is much stricter, prohibiting any simulcasts or shared live programming. Germany’s rules were created after World War II to prevent the government from easily commandeering all communication to an entire nation.
The situation in the U.S. is a bit different, and with modern technology and the ability to maintain electronic public files, there need for a 71-year-old studio rule has been questioned by many in the media world.
The pending end of the Main Studio Rule was proposed in 2016 by the MMTC, in comments filed with the Commission. At the time, MMTC sought repeal of the rules because it “locks in the present effects of past discrimination against minority licensees.”
In making its case, MMTC pointed out that “as a result of racial and ethnic discrimination, minority and ethnic broadcasters entered the industry later than others. Broadcasters who entered the market earlier were able to capitalize off the prime real estate of stronger signals in populous locations. The Main Studio Rule further exacerbates this advantage. Larger companies, who were earlier entrants, are able to maintain a single studio for all of their stations in larger cities, while smaller minority broadcasters frequently have to assemble a cluster of stations in more suburban areas” — each of which has had to have its own “main studio” at enormous expense, it argued.
MMTC also cited the “significant financial burden for smaller stations, particularly those owned by minorities,” in meeting the main studio staffing requirement.
“The rule serves no logical purpose now that unattended station operation is permitted by another FCC rule,” the MMTC, led by Kim Keenan, noted.