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Rosenworcel Floats Proposal to “Support Local Journalism”

She'd prioritize review of applications from radio and TV stations that provide local programming

The chairwoman of the FCC says radio and TV stations that invest in local programming should have priority in the processing and review of license renewal applications.

Jessica Rosenworcel is circulating a notice of proposed rulemaking to that effect with her colleagues on the commission. 

“There’s something special about when you hear a local voice on the airwaves or see a familiar face on your television set in the evening,” Rosenworcel said in a press release.

“Over time we’ve come to trust those voices and they provide an important service to these communities. We want to recognize that dedication when it comes time for license renewals and transactions, and this proposal does just that.” 

The text of the proposal has not been released yet, so we don’t know the details or whether her proposal is about just streamlining certain bureacratic steps or suggesting a more substantial change. 

If adopted, the FCC said, the proposal would begin a proceeding to “incentivize” the production of local programming “by prioritizing the processing and review of applications from broadcast stations that invest in and prioritize local programming in communities across the country.” 

This would include applications for license renewal or assignment or transfer of license filed by radio and television broadcast stations that provide locally originated programming.

Reached for comment, Alex Siciliano, senior VP of communications with the National Association of Broadcasters, replied, “The FCC is right to acknowledge the vital role local broadcast stations play in connecting and informing their communities. Especially at a time when misinformation runs rampant online and newspapers are shuttering, local broadcasting remains one of the most trusted sources of news and information. We look forward to learning more about this proposal.”

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