Ongoing Broadcast Deregulation Is Here

Posted on September 28th, 2017 by

We’ve seen plenty of rules and policies affecting broadcasters find the trash bin at the FCC since Chairman Pai became chairman in January 2017. But apparently, they’ve only just begun. At the recent NAB Radio Show, Chairman Pai highlighted some of those deregulatory actions, but then announced a new effort to double down with cleaning out the “underbrush” from the FCC’s media regulations.

With that, Chairman Pai announced that “for the forseeable future” he would be teeing up a monthly notice of proposed rulemaking targeting outdated or unnecessary regulations for elimination. True to his word, at the Commission’s September meeting, the FCC issued a rulemaking notice proposing to eliminate an ancient rule on the books requiring broadcasters to maintain a paper copy of the FCC’s rules applicable to them. Now that doesn’t mean broadcasters wouldn’t have to follow the existing rules; it just means that ordering and keeping a complete paper copy of the rules – silly in today’s computer age – would no longer be required.

Pai also mentioned that he will put an order before the Commission this fall that would eliminate the main studio rule for broadcasters. In our view, if broadcasters want to have such a studio, that’s a business decision, but the FCC should not mandate that every station have one within a certain distance of its community of license, with two full-time employees always there, and with certain capabilities to originate programming. That’s a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach that is unnecessarily burdensome in today’s broadcast world.

We applaud Chairman Pai for moving forward with meaningful reform. There’s plenty of underbrush to be cleared.