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FCC to Tackle Duplicative Programming Rule

The commission is seeking comment on how best to ensure competition and program diversity as radio grows

The Federal Communications Commission said it may be time to tackle the issue of duplicative programming in commonly owned radio stations.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a blog post this week that the commission will seek comment on modifying or eliminating a rule that limits the amount of duplicative programming that can be aired by commonly owned radio stations in a market.

This rule was originally adopted in 1992; since then the number of radio stations has continued to grow. In his blog post recapping the issues set for the November FCC meeting, Pai said that number of AM and commercial FM stations has increased to 19,500 (up from 11,600 in the 1990s) while the number of noncommercial FM stations has more than doubled and more than 2,000 low-power FM stations have been launched.

[Read: Groups Call on FCC to Waive First-Term Fees for Incubating AM/FM Stations]

And as the number of stations proliferate — and those stations continue to offer content over the air, on websites and through mobile apps — the commission is seeking comment on how to ensure competition and program diversity, which were the objectives of the radio duplication rule when it was set. As a result, the commission will seek formal comment on whether the rule is still necessary and whether it should be modified or eliminated.

Comments on that notice, known as Media Bureau Docket Number 19-310, can be found in the FCC’s ECFS database under the formal title of “Amendment of Section 73.3556 of the Commission’s Rules Regarding Duplication of Programming on Commonly Owned Radio Stations.”

The November commission meeting is set for 10:30 a.m. Eastern on Nov. 19.