At its meeting last week, the FCC adopted an order that eliminated its rule that prohibits radio stations in the same service (AM or FM) that have over 50% overlap of their principal community contours (the 70 dBu for FM stations and the 5 mV/m contour for AM stations) from duplicating more than 25 per cent of the total hours in their average programming week. The elimination of the rule for AM stations had been included in the draft order released several weeks ago in anticipation of the meeting (see our article here). In that draft order, FM program duplication was permitted only by a waiver of the rules. In contrast to the draft order, the majority of the Commissioners voted to permit program duplication for both AM and FM stations. The repeal of the rule for FM stations was justified to give flexibility to stations to react to circumstances that might require duplication to keep a station operating – as might happen during the pandemic or following any natural disaster – without needing to wait for the FCC to rule on a waiver request. The FCC anticipates that such duplication will occur only rarely for FM stations, as there is still an economic incentive to program different formats on different stations to maximize revenue. But stations will now have the flexibility to make that decision for themselves. This order will become effective upon its publication in the Federal Register.
Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog