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FCC Incentive for Local Programming

Perhaps adding an extra year or two in the renewal cycle might be an incentive, that is if everyone agrees on the standard of what constitutes “quality” local programming, and how much time per week.
 
Perhaps adding an extra year or two in the renewal cycle might be an incentive, that is if everyone agrees on the standard of what constitutes “quality” local programming, and how much time per week.
Right. There needs to be more incentive other than the FCC simply promising to do its job. An extra year or two on the license is a good idea. I don't think a standard of quality could be legally defined in this rule.
 
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I just saw the story of this new rule on RadioInk, and their interpretation of it is that it is attempting to reverse the 2017 decision eliminating the Main Studio Rule.


My view is that the only stations I know of that operate with no local studios and are basically satellite repeaters are owned by EMF, VCY, and other religious broadcasters. Perhaps the FCC is targeting religious broadcasters. There are some commercial operators that run a lot of syndication. But even they have local sales offices and create local commercials.
 
I just saw the story of this new rule on RadioInk, and their interpretation of it is that it is attempting to reverse the 2017 decision eliminating the Main Studio Rule.


My view is that the only stations I know of that operate with no local studios and are basically satellite repeaters are owned by EMF, VCY, and other religious broadcasters. Perhaps the FCC is targeting religious broadcasters.
That would please at least 90 percent of this board's posters!
 
I just saw the story of this new rule on RadioInk, and their interpretation of it is that it is attempting to reverse the 2017 decision eliminating the Main Studio Rule.


My view is that the only stations I know of that operate with no local studios and are basically satellite repeaters are owned by EMF, VCY, and other religious broadcasters. Perhaps the FCC is targeting religious broadcasters. There are some commercial operators that run a lot of syndication. But even they have local sales offices and create local commercials.
This is someone at the FCC thinking that if they bring back the main studio rule that it will somehow result in more jobs being created. It just goes to show that none of these yahoos are broadcasters and have no business whatsoever overseeing Radio/TV and are political hacks with agendas that have no basis in for-profit business or the real world. This is the same bunch that thinks that mandating AM in vehicles will somehow magically save the AM band and drive more listeners to it. Just another white whale to chase...
 
My view is that the only stations I know of that operate with no local studios and are basically satellite repeaters are owned by EMF, VCY, and other religious broadcasters. Perhaps the FCC is targeting religious broadcasters. There are some commercial operators that run a lot of syndication. But even they have local sales offices and create local commercials.
And in the nations where radio is doing better than in the U.S., there is a considerable influence by "national coverage stations" which have a single format on dozens up to hundreds of frequencies covering a whole nation. From France and Germany to Spain and Colombia and Chile, it can be seen that "local" is only a significant factor in certain news, sports and information formats.

This is yet another example of bureaucrats and political appointees trying to do something that is tantamount to legislating taste.
 
This is yet another example of bureaucrats and political appointees trying to do something that is tantamount to legislating taste.

Apparently there was a big debate among the commissioners about this, and the view from the minority is that this proposal is designed to reverse the repeal of the Main Studio Rule. What the commissioners fail to take into account is that its very possible to create local programming without a main studio.

The other issue is that the majority of commercial radio stations in this country have main studios and do at least 3 hours of local programming a week. I think they've greatly overestimated the number of stations that have closed studios under the 2017 rule change. The number could be as many as 10,000 radio stations would qualify for this preferred renewal. So then how does the FCC prioritize that large a number when they all qualify to be first in line? There can only be one first. I see this leading to lots of lawsuits by radio stations saying their application should have been reviewed first.
 
While I agree that we need to encourage more local programming, I am not sure what the NPRM is proposing is the right course of action, just because of implementation. Besides the subjective question of what is "local" programming, the issue around "expedited" handling will still have limitations.

The main issue here is §309(b) and (c) of the Communications Act which states that applications, other than certain application types like minor modifications, cannot be granted less than 30 days after the public notice is released. Renewal applications and assignment applications are subject to this 30 day hold. In addition §307(d) of the Act prohibits license renewals in broadcast from being granted more than 30 days prior to the expiration date.

While renewals are normally due four months prior to the license expiration, there is a significant amount of time after the application appears on PN before it is eligible for grant. The FCC normally grants all of the "clean" renewals that are not contested, have no "no" answers on the certification questions and otherwise have no internal holds (e.g. enforcement) in bulk about 2 weeks prior to the expiration date. Even if a license is not renewed by the expiration date, the station still has the authority to broadcast as long as the renewal application is timely filed. I seriously do not see the incentive here to have their renewals granted "earlier" since they must be on PN for 30 days and they can't be granted more than 30 days prior to the expiration. In other words, this would mean that a "local" station may be able to get their renewal grant 4 weeks before expiration instead of 2. I just don't see much of an incentive here, unless they are planning to delay the renewals as "punishment" for running network programming. Still, as long as the renewal is clean, it will get granted, I just don't see the incentive here.

Likewise with assignments. On average, a clean assignment application is normally granted about 45 days after appearing on the PN. This includes the 30 day statutory hold. Also, with assignment applications, it is counterproductive to one half of the transaction because while the assigning licensee may have had a track record of x hours a day of local programming, the assignee has no track record of operating that station as a local station. For example, if Mom and Pop Broadcasting Co. assigns their license to EMF, CSN, AFA, etc., what is to make the assignee carry local programming just because they may have received a grant of their assignment consent a week or two before similar applications received from a "non-local" station?

LPFM does have the local programming pledge in the comparative process, but currently, that only applies to a handful of stations that pledged the point and the point system was used. Even with that, the FCC does not include the conditions on the construction permit, nor has the FCC, in the 24 year history of §73.872(b)(3) have they ever took any kind of enforcement action against stations that have violated their local programming pledge. Same thing with the main studio pledge. As far as I know, the only ones who are tracking which stations are subject to these pledges is REC.

A few months ago, I attended a live meeting with Chair Rosenworcel at HQ about a different issue and during that meeting she had mentioned that the Commission was working on a way to incent stations that provided local programming.

As much as I would like to see more localism in radio, I don't think this is the way to do it. Honestly, I do not have a solution/silver bullet where it comes to how we can encourage more local programming through rules that have not already been killed by the courts or otherwise prohibited by the Constitution.
 
The main issue here is §309(b) and (c) of the Communications Act which states that applications, other than certain application types like minor modifications, cannot be granted less than 30 days after the public notice is released. Renewal applications and assignment applications are subject to this 30 day hold. In addition §307(d) of the Act prohibits license renewals in broadcast from being granted more than 30 days prior to the expiration date.

I was hoping someone would point this out. To put it simply, the idea of prioritizing applications based on programming is illegal and unconstitutional. The Commission is obligated by the TCA to complete all applications promptly, not based on the whim of certain commissioners. This potential rule should be brought to the attention of the courts. It might also be appropriate for this to be brought to the attention of Congress.
 
I was hoping someone would point this out. To put it simply, the idea of prioritizing applications based on programming is illegal and unconstitutional. The Commission is obligated by the TCA to complete all applications promptly, not based on the whim of certain commissioners. This potential rule should be brought to the attention of the courts. It might also be appropriate for this to be brought to the attention of Congress.
The Act does not necessarily state in that language that the application has to be granted promptly. The law regarding the 30 day delay period was a part of legislation that Congress passed in the early 1960s in response to the payola scandal in radio and the rigged quiz show scandals in television. The 30 day delay is to accommodate a requirement that broadcast applicants must make public notice (which for decades has been by newspaper and is now by website or over the air).
 
The Act does not necessarily state in that language that the application has to be granted promptly. The law regarding the 30 day delay period was a part of legislation that Congress passed in the early 1960s

Thanks for the correction, although I didn't say they had to be granted, just completed. Still the law is the law. The current commissioners may not be aware of all the legislation that affects what they do, especially laws passed 60 years ago.

I think we all depend on, and have every reason to expect, federal agencies to carry out their duties promptly. They're now saying the prompt execution of their job is somehow an incentive for radio. That makes no sense.
 
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i do not want the fcc involved in programming in any way shape or form... and thats what this inches towards......... give them an inch, theyll end up taking a mile.
 
As I see it, what this is trying to 'do' (accomplish) is a goal of reducing or curbing the network style repeaters that religious stations often construct. Thats who this would affect outright. The effects on commercial stations may also be there, albeit in a more tempered fashion. There's ways that will be found to take advantage of gray areas in this should it become reality.

In other words they are trying to make broadcast operations be more true locally grown operations. Its just that the language in this and the way it will work out in the real world isn't what they think. And we all know it.
 
In other words they are trying to make broadcast operations be more true locally grown operations.

But the only so-called incentive is the promise of prioritizing their license renewal. BFD. First of all, they haven't explained how they prioritize the 10,000 stations that meet the 3 hours of local programming requirement. Who of those 10,000 applications go first. And second, there really is no benefit to having your renewal processed first or last. Once you've submitted it, it's up to them to process it in a timely manner.

To me, what this does is perpetuate in image that there's a problem with local programming, and that's not true. As I said, the vast majority of radio stations could easily meet the 3 hour requirement. You're right that the EMF stations are obviously going to have a problem. But I don't see them caring.
 
But the only so-called incentive is the promise of prioritizing their license renewal. BFD. First of all, they haven't explained how they prioritize the 10,000 stations that meet the 3 hours of local programming requirement. Who of those 10,000 applications go first. And second, there really is no benefit to having your renewal processed first or last. Once you've submitted it, it's up to them to process it in a timely manner.

To me, what this does is perpetuate in image that there's a problem with local programming, and that's not true. As I said, the vast majority of radio stations could easily meet the 3 hour requirement. You're right that the EMF stations are obviously going to have a problem. But I don't see them caring.
Absolutely. And I only mention the EMF and VCY's because that would be the only place where it might open up future opportunities for something else. Even then, in many areas at least half of those properties are translators. Plus, K-Love and Air1 would do what they have done with IHM and just structure agreements to run on local properties. It isn't a world ending thing.

This is just again, appearing to address a problem when it both 1) really doesnt and 2) none exists.
 
i do not want the fcc involved in programming in any way shape or form... and thats what this inches towards......... give them an inch, theyll end up taking a mile.

The other reason i dont want the fCC involved in programming..

Theyll start mandating certain things....... and in situations like mine, they may not apply or be incredibly hard to do... and then ive got that monkey on my back to worry about. We far exceed anything the FCC has ever required or would require of stations to do in terms of local content and serving the communities we broadcast to, because its the right thing to do. I don't wanna have to meet some assinine cookie cutter requirement.

Rememember... inch...... mile.

Were exempt from having to maintain a paper or online public file at all.... so thankful, i dont have to worry about that horse hockey.
 
The other reason i dont want the fCC involved in programming..

Theyll start mandating certain things....... and in situations like mine, they may not apply or be incredibly hard to do...

That's exactly what this is for companies like EMF. They do zero local programming. So this is a problem for them. I expect they'll turn it into a freedom of religion thing.
 
That's exactly what this is for companies like EMF. They do zero local programming. So this is a problem for them. I expect they'll turn it into a freedom of religion thing.
The problem is the Founding Fathers made no allowance for those who prefer freedom FROM religion in their daily lives. Probably intentional, since they were all Christians (or at least deists) and considered atheists and agnostics not worthy of protecting, seeing as how they would all be going to Hell anyway.
 
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