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What Does President Trump Mean for Radio? We Asked John Garziglia

A Chairman Pai? Successful left-wing radio? Broadcasters as elites?

“Commissioner Pai may very well be our next FCC chairman.”

So says communications attorney John Garziglia, shown, who is among those Radio World asked for reaction to the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president.

Garziglia is with the firm Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice LLP and does a great deal of work in broadcasting. He said broadcasters should hope for a Chairman Pai because he “will understand and push forward on radio issues.”

Looking past the FCC, Garziglia told us that few broadcaster issues are party-oriented in Congress. “The same struggles the radio industry faced in the past — performance fees, ad tax deductibility, and Communications Act rewrite — are as likely to appear in upcoming legislative sessions.”

He suggests broadcasters should continue to be tenacious in visiting their elected representatives to educate them on their business, and vigilant in supporting industry organizations such as the NAB, which he says speak on broadcasters’ behalf with one, big voice.

“If a Trump presidency continues to be the 24/7 reality show that was his campaign, that bodes well for radio and TV programming,” Garziglia thinks. “Possibly we will finally see successful left-wing talk radio as a result of the fodder generated by Trump’s policies and unpredictability.”

He thinks many nationally-based broadcasters this morning came to the stark realization that the bubble they are inside does not include much of the United States. “Further, all broadcast station owners and managers across the country, no matter how connected they may be with their communities, are now regarded as being part of the cursed ‘elite.’”

Broadcasters, Garziglia said, made the Trump brand what it is today. “Broadcasters are the unique assemblage that can most powerfully sway and threaten Trump in the future.”

“Based upon Mr. Trump’s previous statements, there will be the potential for significant governmental challenges, as well as possible calls for citizen-mob types of rebukes, for unwelcome media coverage and commentary. Broadcasters may have to decide how strong are their First Amendment and independent journalism values if so threatened for programming considered contrary to the best interests of the new administration. I sincerely hope it does not come to that as I never wish to see a broadcaster’s economic well-being threatened for its exercise of free speech but we should be prepared for such adversity.”