Do you have a specific local market TV or radio studio to report your local TV news? You don’t need it anymore. But no worries. Media owners won’t necessarily be closing up shop anytime soon. The future is another matter.
Last week, the FCC voted to eliminate its “main studio rule,” which says local news stations must maintain offices within the communities they serve.
For any major TV station group looking to save a few bucks, this is good news. But is this likely? Local TV news viewers are loyal to their local TV anchors and reporters. So don’t look for big TV station groups to replace on-air personnel with little-known talent sitting in a studio far away.
That said, for still-growing TV stations groups like Sinclair Broadcast Group -- the largest U.S. TV station group -- it's a favorable decision.
For a while now, Sinclair has been mandating that its station news directors run specific nationally themed commentary segments -- so-called “must run” video pieces. Former Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn was added to Sinclair’s commentary content providers earlier this year.
More of this required content is on the way -- especially as TV stations look to save costs. Sinclair is in the process of swallowing the big Tribune Media group of stations, a $3.9 billion deal yet to be approved by the FCC.
The FCC’s “main studio rule” began in 1940 to ensure that TV and radio broadcasters address local audiences' needs.
All this may seem highly intuitive on the part of the FCC, foreseeing big national media networks -- TV, social media and otherwise offering a more national, less local, focus on news. But at the time, it was intended to stop anti-competitive and monopolistic tendencies.
Will TV stations groups look to centralized news content? Not that quickly. It would dilute whatever local brand appeal and long-term news engagement exists among local TV viewers.
And what about TV advertisers? Big national brand TV advertisers may not have an issue here -- as long as viewership wasn’t drastically declining. But smaller, more specific local market advertisers -- furniture stores, specialty retailers -- would have a more difficult time.
Proponents of the elimination -- like the National Association of Broadcasters -- believe the main studio rules have “outlived its usefulness,” given growing mobile news gathering and “multiple content delivery platforms.”
So one major broadcast regulation is gone. What comes next?