The Federal Communications Commission adopted a new proposal last week to support local journalism.
The Commission’s new rule will prioritize the processing and review of license applications from broadcasters who commit to hiring to support local coverage.
The rule would serve to incentivize the parent companies of local stations to invest in local reporting. Speeding up the license renewal process would lower the cost of business and increase the chances that small towns aren’t only receiving repackaged news segments from stations in larger cities.
According to the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, “locally originated programming usually reflects needs, interests, circumstances, or perspectives that may be quite pertinent to that community.”
“We want to ensure our policies support local journalism because it is so vital for our communities and our country. This creative proposal offers a new way to do just that,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement.
The rule would provide priority staff review for renewals, transfers, and assignment applications to licensees to make sure that the station — or stations — provides at least three hours of locally originated programming every week.
The proposal received backlash from FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr. Carr’s request to have references to the Main Studio Rule removed was denied. The Main Studio Rule requires every AM and FM radio station as well as TV broadcast stations to have a main studio located in or near its local community.
“My colleagues were only interested in moving forward with the localism proposal if they could also cast aspersion on the separate main studio rule along the way,” Carr said in a statement. “How can the FCC ground its localism proposal in the FCC’s record-less conclusion that the 2017 main studio repeal was an error while simultaneously not proposing to reinstate that rule?”
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is currently open for comments from broadcasters which can be submitted electronically.