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Noncoms Applaud FCC's Main Studio, Rule Deregulation Votes

The FCC's Republican majority was getting some warm fuzzies from noncommercial broadcasting stations for a couple of its decisions at the May 18 public meeting.

While it was not for its reconsideration of network neutrality rules—NPR, for example, has in the past lobbied the FCC for a rule against paid prioritization, one of the prohibitions the FCC is rethinking—America’s Public Television Stations weighed in with plaudits for the FCC's decision to propose eliminating the "main studio" rule and for launching an inquiry into all its media-related regs with an eye toward deregulation.

APTS said both decisions could help them better serve their communities.

APTS president Patrick Butler said that "since the FCC rules now require television stations to have online public files, the key reason for the location of the main studio to be accessible for public inspection of the files is no longer relevant." The FCC recently relieved broadcasters of the last physical public file obligation.

"This burdensome rule does not recognize that local stations are accessible and responsive to their communities through various means, including social media, email and phone," Butler said. "This rule is particularly burdensome to state networks, whose ‘community of license’ spans an entire state. Eliminating this rule would free up station resources that could be directed for local station services in the areas of education, public safety and civic leadership."

FCC chairman Ajit Pai had said one of the reasons for proposing to eliminate the rule was to free up the expense of compliance for things like more local programming.

“We also commend the Commission for undertaking a comprehensive review of media regulations to ensure they continue to serve compelling public purposes," said Butler. "Countless rules are decades old, with no relevance in the modern media world. The prudent reform of these rules will give public television stations an opportunity to invest more time and resources in local service and less in ensuring compliance with anachronistic regulations."

“America's Public Television Stations are deeply appreciative of Chairman Pai's and Commissioner O’Rielly’s leadership in initiating these proceedings, and we look forward to making constructive contributions to both of these proceedings.”