While in Las Vegas for the National Association of Broadcasters show this month, I learned several important lessons. First, never hit against a dealer’s 2 or 3. Second, when lost in the Venetian, take a left at the Transformers statue and a right past the candy shop. And most importantly, the Federal Communications Commission was actually designed to be a pain in the rear of broadcasters.
Hold the phone….let me explain this better. How about we back it up, all the way to 1934 (fedoras optional) to when Congress signed the Communications Act of 1934, creating the agency we now know as the FCC. Basically, their purpose is to create and enforce regulations for television, radio, satellite, wire, and cable. If you ask one of those groups, the FCC was designed to bury you in paperwork for the rest of your life!
Why was it such a big deal? Congress was afraid that large corporations would have a disastrous effect on our economy. They thought any large media groups would have too much power over the economy, giving them a large say in what goes on in the Capitol (think Copper Kings in Helena but worse).
Here’s the kicker: these new regulations were actually modeled off of railroad laws. Now, I may not know much about the railroad, but I do know it is significantly different than radio (they get cool hats, we get headsets and a mic).
Okay, so let’s flash forward 82 years to our current situation. The FCC controls everything about broadcasting- including our reach, how many stations we can have in one market, and whether or not Mav can pick his nose in the studio (what they don’t know won’t hurt them!) One thousand pages of rules we have to follow to bring live and local radio to our community. While some market regulation is necessary, many of these are outdated for our current technology- and many of them don’t make sense anymore (think lack of internet regulations).
Now for the news that has broadcasters popping open the champagne! In his Keynote address on Tuesday morning, Chairman Ajit Pai of the FCC made a commitment to comprehensively look at those regulations, and trim back the excess. Finally, we have a federal agency that is willing to work with the people they serve to find better solutions! Insert happy dance here!
What does it mean for you? Besides making your local TV and radio folks much happier and more pleasant to be around, these rules will help us serve our community better. It will allow your local broadcast teams a chance to improve their service to you- like better coverage of our area, more options for our listeners, and Ron in a hula skirt (just kidding). Hopefully, the new rules will also allow us to refocus on the important part of radio- our community! It is truly a new age in radio- and we can’t wait to see what happens next!
Written by a future broadcaster who came home $5 richer!