Elimination of the Main Studio Rule Scheduled to Be Effective in Early January

The FCC’s decision to abolish the main studio rule, about which we wrote here and here, is to be effective 30 days after the publication of the decision in the Federal Register. That publication is tentatively scheduled, according to the Federal Register documents here, for tomorrow. That would make the rule change effective on January 7, 2018, although we understand that the FCC may consider it to be effective on January 8th, as the 7th is a Sunday. Obviously, things can change and the publication can be delayed, but if all goes as scheduled as it routinely does, those stations looking to eliminate their main studio can do so on or after January 8.

Note that there has been some concern that the Federal government could close if no funding extension is in place by tomorrow, and the closing of the Federal government would mean that the Federal Register would not be published. But funding is in place through tomorrow, so tomorrow’s publication should not be interrupted by any shutdown.

Thus, broadcasters who are ready to take advantage of this rule change can prepare to do so early in the new year. Remember, the abolition of the rule does not eliminate your obligation to serve your local community. It also does not change EAS requirements. And, unless your public file is totally online, you may still need to maintain a public file in the city of license accessible during normal business hours until the file is totally online. Also, note that appeals of this decision are possible but such appeals would not stop the effective date unless a court was to issue a stay of that date – a rare occurrence (see our articles on stay standards here and here). But, assuming all goes into effect as planned, the elimination will provide flexibility to many broadcasters, and it looks like that flexibility will come very soon.