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FCC to Look at ‘Broadcast Localism’

FCC to Look at 'Broadcast Localism'

Are important and familiar practices in local radio about to change? Expect much discussion on this question in coming months.
Chairman Michael Powell had promised, as the agency was mulling new ownership rules, that commissioners also would look at how stations do business. Now the commission has begun a public inquiry into “broadcast localism.”
The agency wants the public to comment on topics including newsroom staffing, EAS and voice tracking, among other issues.
The commission is asking about the cost and profitability for news programming in radio and whether it is similar to those of TV. NAB submitted a study last year that indicated TV stations in middle and smaller markets realize a 30 to 40% profit on local news; the commission wants to know if that also holds for radio, as well as general information on how many news people radio and TV stations employ.
The agency also asks if it should impose restrictions on voice tracking.
Powell stated that the FCC’s localism task force would combine public input with its own studies to see what steps or legislative recommendations to Congress would strengthen localism in broadcasting.

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