The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently eliminated an 80-year-old rule that required stations to have a studio inside the market they are servicing.
The rule was adopted nearly 80 years ago “to facilitate input from community members and the station’s participation in community activities,” the FCC said. But that’s no longer necessary because residents “can interact directly [with stations] through alternative means such as e-mail, social media, and the telephone,” the FCC majority said.
This change was pushed for by the National Association of Broadcasters, an industry lobby group.
“Getting rid of the rule will help broadcasters serve viewers and listeners, especially those in small towns and rural areas where the cost of compliance dissuades broadcasters from even launching stations,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said.
Now, this won’t mean your local news will end. Local news is still highly profitable for broadcasters with only 3.7% of local TV stations reporting a loss on their news operations in 2016. This has driven the growth of more local news productions from daytime local talk shows to additional evening news programming.
This move will free up smaller networks that do not offer local programming from having the expense of a local studio. It will also lower the bar for the cost of launching new local TV stations inside the United States.
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