FCC Chief Pledges Steady Effort to Rewrite Media Regulations

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By Kyle Daly

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is promising to make at least one proposal to eliminate or modify an “outdated or unnecessary” media regulation every month for the foreseeable future, the agency chief said in prepared remarks for a Sept. 6 speech to a broadcaster audience in Austin, Texas.

Pai hopes to kill or alter what he sees as obsolete regulations primarily imposed on broadcasters, he said in a speech prepared for the National Association of Broadcasters’ Radio Show. Television and radio broadcasters like Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. and iHeartMedia Inc. have bristled under what they call burdensome and outdated FCC rules.

Pai said he circulated a proposal to his fellow commissioners Sept. 6 to eliminate a rule that certain broadcasters and cable companies keep physical copies of FCC rules on hand, and plans to hold a vote on it at the FCC’s Sept. 26 meeting.

“Now, in the grand scheme of things, I understand that this is hardly the biggest deal. But it offers a pretty vivid example of how there are outdated regulations that are still on the books that no longer make any sense,” Pai said in his prepared text.

Pai also said he wants the FCC to vote this fall to eliminate the agency’s “main studio rule” requiring TV and radio stations to maintain a main studio in or near the community where they hold a license.

“Local access to a physical station is simply no longer necessary,” since stations largely host their public inspection files online and can be reached through social media, email or phone, Pai said in his prepared speech. The FCC voted unanimously in May to advance a proposal that would end the rule.

Pai said the agency plans to vote Sept. 26 to relax technical rules for certain AM radio stations’ antenna operations. The changes are meant “to ease the regulatory and financial burdens faced by these broadcasters,” he said in his prepared text.

The FCC chief first announced his intention to review all FCC media regulations for potential elimination at the same trade group’s NAB Show in Las Vegas in April. Pai has also said he wants to revisit some media ownership rules that limit how many media outlets any one broadcaster can own.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kyle Daly in Washington at kdaly@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Keith Perine at kperine@bna.com

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